I come up for air
before my second dive
into the underwater tunnel.
No knowing
the length of its span;
no guessing when
my lungs will shrivel,
and open
to the black river.

I spend my birthday
at the dance
with my brothers
and their girls—
they are fresh
as strawberries;
I am fighting
the crone on my back.

I take my place
in the pulse of bodies,
from where he moves,
holding out his hands—
big, blackened
at the fingernails—
and he clasps me
as the beat slows
to a honey fade.

His voice finds my ear
through the music’s trance,
and he tells me
of his craft—
carving headstones—

I could pull away
but I let my cheek
accept his shoulder
and my breath inhales
his scent
of peppery young man,
and marble,
and clay—

as my body tenses
for the dive.