Thursday, December 10, 2009

Long Caye Melody

Long Caye Melody

by Joyce Wycoff

For Jes who introduced us to the mysteries.

There is a line
That divides the world.
Sky above;
Water below.

Sky flaunts its charms
In a never-ending show.
You can sit in a chair and watch
Sunrise throw a paint party of pink and gold.
Minutes later the colors are whisked away
By purple-black cumulus dropping squalls
Across the line.
Then almost before the last rain drop falls,
Black and white frigate birds ride
Thermals across the sun-washed, too-blue sky.
Sky has nothing to hide.

Most people stay on that long line
Where sky meets water, happy
To sail along the surface past the spot
Where the peregrine falcon perches
On a dead tree limb punctuating
The gap between two islands.
The line is a knowable place.

But, water, oh that dark, bright water,
Reflecting sky, challenging the line,
What mysteries lie beneath
Where even the rocks live and breathe?

Dive in and visit one interlaced community –
Coral reef, turtle grass and sand –
Where sponges, orange, gold and iridescent blue,
Filter water for food, wiping clean the view,
While rainbow colored parrotfish chomp
Coral into sand in their pursuit of algae meals.

In anemone-hosted cleaning stations,
Tiny, almost invisible shrimp eat sea lice
From groupers that turn dark
To highlight the parasites then flash back
to their original shade when the cleaning is done.

Schools of blue surgeon fish swim
Over brain coral and around waving sea fans.
Lobsters and arrow crabs dart into dark recesses;
An octopus absorbs dinner on a star coral overhang;
Grunts, jacks, wrasses, barracuda, mackerel,
Chromis, hogfish and a thousand juveniles
Swim in and around the coral fingers and
Sponge baskets … feeding, playing, living.

And, supporting it all,
Feeding sunlight to the coral,
Being fed by the coral,
Unseen and for millennia unknown,
The lowliest algae of all –
Zooxanthellae, in some ways
Mother of all.

Back on the line in the Long Caye dining room,
Marie Sharp reminds us that she has succeeded
And offers us this hot advice:
Dive in. Dive in. Dive in.

Written 1/10/2007 -- notes and more info:

Jes Karper, adventure guide extraordinaire, naturalist, and hat weaver is also a musician. His eco-spiritual gentle tunes can be heard at .
Long Caye (pronounced key) is a tiny island in Glover’s Reef atoll off the coast of Belize.
More info at:
Zooxanthellae, pronounced zoo-zan-thell-ee. More info:
Marie Sharp is the creator of a line of terrific hot sauces and jams that spiced and sweetened our week in paradise. More info available at:


  1. I've always wanted to go to Belize. I'm not much of a water person, but your poem makes Long Caye sound like a beautiful place. I'll to save the link to drchilepepper --- I went to the site and now my mouth is watering. Off to fix some lunch-- wish I had something spicy here at home.

  2. Yum. And now to book that flight to Belize!

    Lovely Joyce.

    Thank you!