And That’s How I Almost Died of Foolishness in Beautiful Florida

Jessica Jacobs

Nights, I ran golf courses whose water traps
shone red with the eyes of alligators and rang
with their falsely innocuous chorus
of chirps. The fairway grass was less
wilderness than carpet, whispering up
its pesticides. To get home, I memorized
street signs because every house
looked the same.
                                               I have no doubt
that if I’d stayed—given in to the gravity
of expectations and inertia—I’d be
dead already, in my push to feel
something, anything:
                                   neck snapped
over the bars of a mountain bike, or fallen
off one of the cliffs I’d fled to; too many
drugs, the wrong kind of women, or maybe even
a husband who’d never have known why sadness
was all he brought me.
                                     Why I spent all day
staring at the lake, wading shoreline
where gators found their daily shade, thinking                              
it wouldn’t be that bad, really,
couldn’t be much worse than this
to offer myself to those jaws, those
daggered rows of teeth.
                                      Its body weighting mine                              
to the muck-sunk bottom like a child
pulling in the cord of a favorite
balloon, saying, Enough
of all this air and sky. Come rest with me
here, deep as you can. Come rest
and dream of the life you might have led
if you’d left this place, this
falsely innocuous, this beautiful Florida.




*The title is a line in Mary Oliver’s “Alligator Poem.”