In St. Mawes

Once, in Tampa, we made a drunken
habit of jumping off bridges into the bay,
where luminescent algae set our bodies
aglow. We looked like toxic merpeople.
But this isn’t Tampa, and I almost drowned
in the bay, so I watch the jumpers, watch
my wife and daughter, the sole Americans,
and the only ones in bathing suits, jump
off the ancient quay. I consider, oddly,
how the Creature from the Black Lagoon
was filmed in Florida, and is an iteration
of Grendel, and how intrepid saints have
a fondness for banishing serpents a’ la Beowulf.
Existence is an Ouroboros. You come here,
and you jump, if you’re one for jumping,
as I’m not. Mawes. Maudet. Maudit?
Cursed saints preserve us. Sometimes
a thing, a place is defined by what it isn’t.
Cornwall isn’t England or Brittany or Ireland
or Wales, and across the harbor, in Falmouth,
is castle Pendennis. I’m always elsewhere.
In some towns, even the locals look like foreigners.
Strange that they have palm trees here,
in Cornwall, and saints you’ve never heard of.

 

Image Credit: Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), IMDB.