Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Underworld Sea

If you were seeking a Martian, you might find it in the spindly creation called an arrow crab.
Sebastien of Grand Case Beach Club Watersports lifted one of the fragile arthropods from the sea floor and set it on my hand. The head and body were as narrow as the legs, a spire or a minaret. When I let it wash free, it drifted down like the frame of an umbrella.
Jack and I are back long enough from St. Martin for the sunscald on my back to heal, but it will be a long, long time before the memories of snorkeling around Creole Rock fade.
My childhood was shaped by regular visits with "The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau," so the view was familiar when I dipped my mask under the surface. I saw fish I could name - angelfish, damselfish, jacks, parrotfish - and others that later gained a name, the needlefish that swam close to my face. We floated over coral and sea urchins and sea stars, breath rasping in the snorkel tube, fins motivating us forward. We visited the Swimming Pool, where fish swirled around us and the ultra colors of tropical seas were lit by beams of sunlight.
Yet as familiar as it all seemed, from memory, it was an intensely hallucinatory experience. Floating over the sea bottom, with fish pulsing through the uncorrected field of my astigmatic/nearsighted/prebyopteric vision, was like dreaming flight. I moved weightlessly, but the sea slapped at my head. Everything moved in a measured dance, a syrupy present. By the time we had circled the seamount, the combination of rough water and uncertain vision had me queasy - an effect compounded by a faceful of gasoline from a recent boat takeoff. I didn't know you could get seasick while inside the sea, but it is indeed possible.
Poor Sebastien - I know he felt responsible, but it was just that difficult return to Earth from another dimension, an alien underworld of gaudy fliers and improbable creepers.
Can't wait to return ....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had a time...