lobster diving

forty years ago
her mother drove a van
from philly to malibu
and ten years later, off-shore
the god of lobsters
was born.

today
early morning,
asleep in the van
on the first day of lobster season
it was raining, strange
water on metal
bad conditions
so we slept in.

later when the clouds broke
we kicked with plastic fins
and breathed deep before diving
through eel grass and silver fish.

jelly-limbed, shivering
i rested for a while
on a boogy board
and watched her fins disappear
thinking how if we both
had been cast
off the titanic
probably only she
would have survived.

between sea, clouds over waves
and flocks of pelicans,
i floated.

she pulled a tiny lobster from the sea
that was foaming, hoping to live.
gauge?

i slipped the metal ruler
from the sleeve of my wetsuit,
and passed it to her.
too small, she said, measuring his torso,
and dropped him back alive.

we didn’t catch anything but
her mother did,
a monster lobster,
record-breaker.
they dragged him in half-dead,
in a cooler, weakly clicking
the god of the lobsters,
an alien from the sea.

in the car later she said quietly
it’s not popular you know, animism
but i believe that’s what that lobster was,
a deity, a survivor, and older than me.

nauseous, i closed my eyes and could still feel
the rocking of the waves,
how they held us
sea-sick
land mortals.

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