Swamp cypress candled itself above the water
where Nereus’ daughter
ID’d carnivorous-looking white blooms
and erect scarlet racemes
exciting an admiral, plus some
small yellow species, all sulphur and helium.
She even thought she saw a hummingbird
feasting on the bells of bright red –
less a creature
than a miniature
tourbillon tweezing a gap in the humdrum
Damselflies, appointed in turquoise,
daubed wrists and knees:
their easy familiarity
as intrusive as their beauty.
Beneath the surface, eelgrass
had a psychedelic pulse.
Arethusa took the plunge and with a shock
found herself under a shelf of rock.
The bubbling places – feeder springs –
drew her into their eddyings
and any toehold she could get
onto a slimed cypress root
proved too slick. A would-be lover,
Alpheus, went in after her.
Arethusa chased, not chaste,
was taken by her water waist
forever. Now a spicebush swallowtail
given bias to its flight with metallic blue detail,
sails between us where we sit
(‘Yours or mine?’ you said:
‘ta anima’) staring for a while
at the star-shaped inlaid tile
where fountain jets cleave and rebuff
and like both lights and fireworks, go off.