Heir to Disaster
Just fifteen years out of the Navy.
I’ve done it plenty of times.
What could be so hard?
Stop into the dive shop and ask
about charters. On something deep,
of course. That should be no problem.
So I’ll flash my certification,
rent every piece of gear, down to the fins,
and show up at the dock next morning.
Three two-man buddy teams.
What’s one more man? Make one three.
What could possibly go wrong?
Nice backward roll into the water,
gather my senses and start the descent.
Man, those other guys move fast!
That is one big freighter!
And there they are waiting at the ship’s rail.
Wait a minute. Why is it so hard to breathe?
What does a guy do to get attention?
Maybe someone will notice my panicked look.
Someone checks my gauges. There’s an idea!
Almost out of air. At least they have some left.
Nothing left to do, but buddy breathe and surface.
Maybe I’ll have better luck on the other dives.
This is my response (more narrative than poetic) to Poetics: Exploring the Narrative Voice, the prompt from Ingrid at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, which is to write a poem in the voice of a fictional character.
Let’s call this fictional, since I don’t identify the diver, but this actually happened on a dive in the Straits of Mackinac. I chartered a dive boat so that five of my friends could join me, wreck diving in Michigan’s narrow strait between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. At the dock, the boat captain asked if a guy could join us. He had done plenty of dives while in the Navy. We were doing three dives, so we agreed he could be a third man with each of our teams, on separate dives – one team in the water at a time. As the deepest of the wrecks (110 feet to the bottom), the Cedarville was to be our first dive, and he joined my dive buddy and me. When we reached the rail of the ship at 70 feet, I could see he was having difficulties. I checked his air gauge and saw he didn’t have enough left to make the ascent with a decompression stop, let alone to explore the wreck. We had to abort the dive, and he ended up breathing from my tank, until we reached the surface. Air in a scuba tank will expand with ascent, and when he saw his air gauge rise he bolted to the surface as we stayed at the decompression stop.
Images source: Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Preserve Asociation