Florida lake surrounded by trees

Florida Water Sources and the Best Seeing

Headwater. Mouth
of the river. So hard to understand
where it starts and where it ends,
to remember the headwater 
tiny, a trickle, a bubble
up out of dry ground,
and the mouth—wide as a country.

With greater ease I learned
the dark swimming moons
beside my rowboat in Crystal River
were sea cows. Manatees.
Their bulbous undulating masses
huge enough to tip the boat
were live. I couldn't see their eyes
or know their heads from ends
but I knew not to swim,
nearblind, in that river.

And so I turned to sinkholes,
barren funnels filled with bright water
bubbling from the underground springs.
Clear. Even with bad eyes.
I swam along the tops in teeshirt
and cut-off jeans, wide-opening
eyes to the clear cold water.

I heard one sinkhole
swallowed a whole car,
and feigned to take a town—
a sudden large thing. But that's not
what I knew of sinkholes.

Mine was one deep V at the edge of a swamp.
Few people came there. Rocks weren't set around
and there was no formal sign.
It was just a known place—
you could go for free with the boy you loved.
Out of a muggy day you'd dive right in
and down you'd go,
getting cool and getting clean, knowing
it had no outlets and no end
you could hold your breath
and watch the bright swaying
things in this clear water, eyes wide open.