From a drone 
The man-made waterways 
Spread out their fingers 

A sailboat sputters
Past humdrum condominiums
Toward the mouth 
Of Boca Ciega Bay 

The old Mercury puffs 
A few thick clouds 
Before it stalls 
Then a lull 

The timing near perfect: 
The wind billows the sails
Full sail ahead 
The ageless current 
That drives the air 
That stirs the water 
And moves the hull 
Toward the sea moves me 
And causes my fingers 
To move across the page 

The drone zooms in to showcase the pool 
As it juts into a widening channel
The area deserted 
Except for an old man near the water’s edge 
He is regally robed and safari helmeted 
Sitting and writing 
In the cage of his red-wheeled walker 

It is summer in Florida

He interrupts himself to look around 
Then goes back to taking notes 
On the secret life of plants 
Zoom in closer:
I am that man

I open myself to the silence 
There’s enough of it here 
To hear the tiniest of wings 
Not the drone taking 
Wing from MacDill Air Base 
But the sound of a frail creature 
Swollen with pollen 
Toiling to hold itself up 
In the empty air
Waiting with grace 
For the fall 

The inevitable splash 

In that same instant 
Sun sparklers trawl their nets 
Across the surface 
To catch this quiet 
How could I have missed it? 
Something sacred was about to land 

Swimmers invade the pool 
Instead of swimming they stand 
In the water or move a limb 
Talk of tai chi and yoga 
And cancer and catheters 
A father with Alzheimer’s 
A neighbor’s lingering terminal illness

A death 

For a few seconds all is quiet 
Maybe too quiet 
The air begins to cloy 
With baby oil and iodine 
A professor whose gray hair is braided 
Announces that the spirit
Must be grounded in light 
Another interrupts her 
With The Power of Now
Soon all is aflutter 
The sounds distant and nonsensical 
As the chirping of birds

What they leave behind 
Is stillness so maddening 
The shrill lawnmower 
Is welcome noise 
Stillness then 
Is not the absence of sound 
And loveliness not always a flower 
Unless I see it for the first time 
How the filaments in the center 
Thinner than paper 
Aspire upward 
Never preening 
And when its time has come 
A petal does not mind drying 
Never minds 

Under the nose 
Of a mechanical owl 
And barrier fishing lines 
Two Florida sparrows land
To gulp water 
Splash one another 
And spur the moment to frolic 
One flies away 
The other looks on
The slight wings beating the water 
To drown its sorrow
Before it too flies off
In the same direction

Stillness is not 
Always the lack of motion 
The birds were not nervous 
When they gave themselves 
Over to doing what they do 
They have flown beyond artificial nets 
Even ceremonial doves 
Defy formation without 
Fretting about falling 
Or bettering their last 

On the Tiki hut 
A palm frond loses its footing 
The vertical drop 
Fans into a swan dive 
Still it misses the water 
And scrapes along the pool’s edge 
Waiting to be airborne again 

In the shadow 
Of a sundial 
A caterpillar plant comes to life 
Breakdancing to a sudden gust 
The stem shivers and little hairs 
Thin and fall 
Into transparence 
In the whitening sun 
Each floats on air 
To its own rhythm 
Its own 
Stylized breaking crawl 

The mower cuts all that have landed 
In its path into finer filigree 
To be airlifted or sprayed 
Into green water 
And carried out colorless 
As they reach the sea 

They are as much a part of the great 
Current as the dancing seahorse 
The feather star 
Or the rainbow anemone 
What was dander in the grass 
Is now a great spirit 
More brilliant in its sheerness 
Than the oleander 

The pool light comes on underwater 
I watch the lightshow on the bottom 
Lace curtains dance in and out of focus 
And shudder at the slightest touch

A single breath from me sets off ripples 
Changing the mesh of an entire universe 
Each pattern more intricate than the last 
As sound waves translate 
Into shape-shifting 
Fractals of light

I keep blowing on the surface 
Mesmerized by zebras crawling 
Down my leg
The shifting lines continue to drill 
Their spiraling illusions
Right through the concrete
To the underside of life

All I do is to poke
A finger in the water and—voila! 
A diaphanous mandala 
Alive and billowing 
Spreads out and downward
And starts to gel
In the viscous slow motion 
Of a lava lamp overflowing
To an underground river 
And an endless formless
Waxen ocean 

 The submarine light 
Insinuates itself through 
The murky green of night vision 
Into the very treacle of the sea 
And what unfolds before the eye 
Is an undulating breathing 
Undiscovered yet familiar 
Forming and reforming 
In fleeting time-lapse 
Corals becoming reefs becoming
An island of coral 
The runway of the landing 

As I tread way 
Into the secret life of the jungle 
Leaves waver

Dry and yellow 
Into haystacks of old Europe 
Changing in shape and color 
Into towers of Cholla cactuses
Teepee huts crowned with 
The feathers of raised spirits
Images of burial mounds
Subterranean pyramids 

Glowing embers red and volcanic 
Burst and spatter 
Every edifice cornice and porous 
Surface of concrete jungle 
With a riotous magma of color
Melting and molding
Every molecule
Into sacred geometry

Gecko gargoyles mechanical owls 
A razor-sharp sunburst 
Appear in glaring colors
To scare off buzzards unwanted 
Solicitors and all other bloodsuckers
That impersonate time 

From the Kenmore to Embassy row 
Condominiums raise 
Their sacred totems 
To the beat of Tocobaga drums 
An ancient wind instrument 
Billows the sails 
And makes the fingers of water tremble 
Artists bricklayers dragon slayers 
Sailors and whistling minstrels 
Woman warriors
Weary from battles for their 
Own secret heart 
Every grain of sand 
Blown here from distant shores 
Every brush and crush of petal 
Filament of flower sundial and owl 
An animate and timeless 
Sacrament of grace

From Opening at Town Shores (YellowJacket Press, 2019). Copyright © 2019 Peter Hargitai. Used with permission of the author.