How to Dive in Kelp Forest
kelp (ME cülp(e), of unkn. orig)
—The Concise Oxford Dictionary
The stipes braid together, grow air-filled bulbs, float
each frond towards the surface.
Do not jump into a mess of greenish-gold. Wait for the swing of the boat
to move away. In thick kelp, the surface is not your friend;
sometimes, even the bottom is not your friend.
Make a mental map:
sketch it on your dive slate—plan your depth and time.
Canopies are so thick, it is like cave-diving
—floating through an upper understorey of golden branches. Break stipes
as if you are breaking a pencil—carry shears, but not a big Rambo knife. Don’t start
and then discover your second stage is unfindable.
Did I mention the sculpins? The senoritas and Spanish shawls? The starfish,
urchins and gorgonians?
Don’t penetrate so deep
you don’t know where out is. When surfacing, select a sand-patch
where blue sky may be seen.
‘How to Dive in Kelp Forest’ was previously published in Flute of Milk (Crawley, WA: UWAP, 2017)
Photos in collage from: CSIRO CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0) via Wikimedia Commons