Simona Carini was born in Perugia, Italy. She writes poetry and nonfiction and has been published in various venues, in print and online. Her first poetry collection Survival Time is published by Sheila-Na-Gig Editions. She lives in Northern California with her husband, loves to spend time outdoors, and works as an academic researcher. Her website is https://simonacarini.com
First Time Rowing on Open Water
I felt the rise and fall as I rowed out of the sheltered marina
towards open water, the first strokes tentative and misaligned,
while searching for my rhythm on the brilliant blue expanse:
Richardson Bay heaved like a giant creature breathing in its sleep.
The oars extensions of my arms, their blades, like hands, glided
through the water, propelled the white sculling boat forward.
A wind blew down the hills and buffeted me at its pleasure,
the oars caught the waves at wrong angles, my back stiffened,
I rowed wielding only arms’ strength, not enough to keep the boat
on course. Breath ragged, focus frayed, I struggled to find my pace,
follow the sequence of stroke’s phases: catch, drive, finish, recovery—
repeat. Pushing hard with my legs, stronger than the wind,
I inched across to Strawberry Point, turned north, rowed leeward
on calmer water, eased into the bliss of long, steady strokes,
found again the familiar rhythm of breathing and body motion.
Having rowed to the other end of fear, the heaving blue
now draws me: I answer its pull when pushing off the dock.
I Feed on Memories of Diving the Wall on Little Cayman Island
like a Hawksbill turtle biting off a sponge.
With a long exhale, I descended into cobalt blue,
slow-danced down the side of a sheer coral wall,
the echoing sound of breathing in my ears,
water all around me, happy medium, liquid breeze.
A pair of French angelfish—flat black bodies brightened
by yellow-rimmed scales—darted in unison,
a Reef shark shot downward and disappeared.
Buoyant, I swam along the wall, looked for creatures
into crevices, drew back, held by the womblike deep.
An Arrow crab perched on coral on its spindly legs,
a frilly leaf crawled, revealed itself a Lettuce sea slug.
My body belonged to the moment,
as I converged on a sea anemone
and searched for its tenant Pederson cleaning shrimp
hiding among the stinging tentacles.
The dive computer guided my slow ascent,
the safety stop granted a few more minutes to embrace
schools of fish, coral heads, gorgonians swaying in the current,
I pulled away and inched back to the surface,
glare in my eyes, staggered up the boat’s ladder
with heavy gear I would shed and slip on weights awaiting—
pounds of worries and anxiety. I fought the urge to let go
of the handrail, back into the water, into the blue.