at the dark limits of earth
where land ends and water begins,
at the elemental border
where you can go no further
without one entering the other,
the green light goes on.
It's not the man who fishes here,
not the light of human making
because we are the ones who measure light
and because light was created before us
from blood of flesh and sea
like this animal light of the manta ray
traveling the latitudes of night
and longitudes of darkness
knowing the blue unfathomable shifts
and dark ranges of the world beneath water.
It travels a rich sea away from us,
its light falling on plankton,
bringing food and fish toward it,
as if it is moonlight
opening across water,
it passes over the fished-out places
beyond the reef where coral is dying,
out past the point where the British captain was killed
by those who first thought he was a shining god.
It moves steadily out into darkness
to where the colder darkness begins to well up
from the sea depths that have no bottom,
the place where I have feared the pale face of a shark
with its deadly touch
against my naked legs.
The ray travels over the many
other lives that have light
and below them is the blindness
of fish who need no sight,
and out toward the place where sun left the sky,
to where the larger creatures live,
where fishermen once found their boat cast in shadow
and looking up, saw what kind of cloud it was,
the manta ray risen out of water, a leap
so large it darkened the sky.
The men returned haunted by
everything that was larger than they were,
more beautiful and bearing its own light.
Tonight on this dark shore,
watching the animal light go over the horizon,
I long to be in water heading for open sea,
for no other power,
no other light.
~ Linda Hogan ~
(Rounding the Human Corners)