A would-be body-surfer, eight years old,
he fell in with the ocean’s mood of calm,
reviewing each low swell as it unrolled
before him its obsequious salaam.

Crossing the fringe of foam with splashing stride,
he found himself knee-deep, waist-deep, and still
nothing swung by worth joining for a ride.
Level and lazy lay the sea. Until

the chastening wave upreared a glassy face,
its towering onset tugging up his eyes
to see it beetling. He was locked in place,
discovering how doom can paralyze.

Punitive pounding, surging overthrow,
churning immersion, brackish aftermath,
it was embarrassing to undergo.
The water was as placid as a bath

after this one leviathan hit land,
leaving him for a time to drip and look
daggers at where he’d been from safe on sand.
It was the oldest lesson in the book

that sank in as he sniffled, nursed a scrape,
and kept his jarred attention on the matter.
He would become a master of escape:
when offered fight or flight he’d pick the latter.

Having survived the deluge, common sense
would hold him back from an unequal brawl
with such a mass of green malevolence
a billion times his age and twice as tall.

Deciding this revived his dampened spirit
somewhat. But as long as he would live,
he’d rate the way it hid till he came near it
with things too deep to fathom or forgive.