For thirty-three years, your exposure to water
consisted of quarries, creeks,
and the occasional lakeside barbecue.
Life on the transplant list kept you grounded,
so this was only our second seaside vacation.
You came prepared with beach shoes,
a swim shirt because the anti-rejection meds make you
high-risk for skin cancer, and snorkeling gear.
You were determined to explore a reef that lay
somewhere beyond the buoys.
Before I knew it, I could barely see you.
You can’t imagine the panicky flutterings,
as if I’d swallowed live kelp,
akin to watching you get wheeled off to the operating room,
glaucous hospital light a universe apart
from the blue Caribbean.
I carry it with me forever, that light,
the way I will carry forever the flash of sun on your fins,
how, in that moment,
you were closer to the horizon than you were to me,
how you dove.
Lauren Scharhag is an award-winning writer of fiction and poetry. She lives on Florida’s Emerald Coast. To learn more about her work, visit: laurenscharhag.blogspot.