We stop at the edge of the reef
just short of the ledge that drops
deep and steep off the continental shelf.
As the boat’s motor cuts out,
waves of doubt carry away
any skerrick of bravado lurking inside me.
The others are stripping down to bathers
and enthusiastically donning rented masks and snorkels.
(Is there anything less hygienic?)
Before long, they are all in the sea
bobbing like corks,
eyes down on the colonies of coral,
backs exposed to the equatorial sun.
The swell rocks the vessel, up, then down.
Now, being in the ocean, rather than on it,
seems like a viable option.
Beneath the surface, snapper and wrasse.
Yellows, blues, greens, anemones,
sweetlips and parrot fish, unicorn noses.
It’s a feast for the eyes
of those who pass the bravery test,
even if what it takes is a buoyancy vest.