Marc Swan’s latest collection, all it would take, was published in May 2020 by tall-lighthouse in England. Poems forthcoming in Gargoyle, The Broadkill Review, Channel Magazine, among others. He lives in coastal Maine with his wife Dd. His collection, today can take your breath away is available from Sheila-Na-Gig Editions:
Neon green snakes slither on the surface of the river
as we paddle over placid water,
an occasional heron along the shore,
old wooden boats with comical names
tied to rickety docks. The man who plans trips
for guests dropped us up river, pushed off the boat—
when you get to the bay, there’ll be bikes waiting.
Belize in May—long sleeve shirts, oversize
hats, light weight pants, steamy and humid,
at dusk mosquitos everywhere, here just snakes,
heat, the Sittee River we follow, broad and endless.
I stop paddling. We’re almost out of water.
Bay still far ahead, my wife digs in. I’m dizzy
and the world is spinning—
gasping for air, not the way I want to die.
Stay with me, she says, we’re almost there.
The current picks up and for a few crazed minutes,
she paddles as fast as she can. There, she says—
an open spot, third-world bikes propped against a log.
Sun beating down, sweat dripping, eyes straining,
we drag the tin can canoe on to shore,
mount the bikes for a slow pedal to the bay,
plunge into roiling surf, rise for gulps of air—
down, up, again and again. My skin tingles,
cooling in the soft breeze. We drip our way
to the bikes, on the dusty road to a beachside bar.
In my hat a stash of cash, more than enough
for four iced downed Belikin Darks—
look at each other, crack up, here we are
lounging on the deck of The Last Chance Saloon.