We climbed the ladder, fins in hand
Like monks in procession, silent
We entered the sanctuary
Reverent, prayerful while the hatch
Was shut and locked, the chamber tight.
Enshrined within, packed close, we looked
And hoped that all would go well as
We undogged the door, and turned the
Valve that began the flood and felt
The water’s coolness rising that
Could claim us or cause us such grave
Discomfort that we hope the bubble
Holds as the water reaches higher
Until it stops and the door swings out
And we can see the blue world beyond.
The monk across from me, his cowl
In place, ducks below the surface
And we follow one by one into
The blue shadows, a gray world of
Adventure, swimming with the fish.
Our holds remain tight as we move
At 3 knots, the submarine a
Black mass silently sliding with
Us attached and moving at our tasks
Ever mindful of the screw’s revolutions
That would turn us into a form of
Chum if we were swept off; so the
Vigilance never wavers as
We glance skyward to the silver
Surface shot with light and movement.
It is our sanctuary, a
Place of respite, a haven within
Reach that can be taken if we
Kick forth and glide upward on legs
Moving with those long scissor kicks.
With all tasks complete, we return
To the chamber door, leaving the
Magic of this whale world, reluctant
But compliant, we slide through and
Pop the bubble until we are in.
We call in and twist the valve again,
Increase the air pressure which drains
The tank and we open the hatch,
Climb down into the dank comfort
Of the forward torpedo room.
These monks remove their rubber cowls
And black skins, joking, a special
Order whose altar service is a knife
Honed sharp and a willingness, a
Compulsion, to dance with death’s wet face.
BUD/S Class 35 wc
August 23, 1995 10:33 p.m.
Hayden Lake, Idaho