Captiva by Cathy Barber

florida goldin licensed

by Cathy Barber

Herons and egrets land below our balcony.
White pelicans brush the water
in that half-V formation
they seem to have half-copied from Canada geese.
From our porch, we relish the day-long silence,
dotted only by a fish’s flop
or an osprey’s single shriek.
Our quiet ends just before sunset,
when charter boats motor into the bay.
The boats are jampacked with tourists
whooping and hollering,
leaning over the sides, drinks in hand.
And that captain’s loudspeaker!
We’re annoyed for us and the dolphins.

When we take a charter ourselves,
to Useppa, where the Bay of Pigs was planned,
dolphins form an impromptu escort.
The captain tells us to make a racket—
clap, yell, whoop, holler—
the dolphins will perform.
And they do.

They race us and keep pace,
leap and twist.
With each vault for air,
one eye in profile faces the crowd on the deck,
mouths open, teeth revealed.
We would bet good money
they are smiling at us,
welcoming our clamor.

PHOTO: Bottlenose dolphins leap from the water off of Captiva Island, Florida. Photo by Steven Goldin, used by permission. 


NOTE: With a total area of 1.7 square miles, Captiva Island is located in the Gulf of Mexico off the southwestern Florida shore, about 30 miles from Fort Myers. Originally part of neighboring Sanibel Island to the southeast, it was severed in 1926 when a hurricane’s storm surge created a new channel, Blind Pass.  A wide variety of wildlife lives on the island, including bobcats, raccoons, lizards, alligators, iguanas, armadillos, coyotes, river otters, wild pigs, and squirrels. The region is known as one of the best destinations in the world for birdwatchers, with variety of egrets, herons, pelicans, and other avians. 

PHOTO: Great blue heron on Captiva Island, Florida. Photo by

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Captiva” was written two years ago on a vacation my husband and I took in an interval between chemotherapy and mastectomy for breast cancer I had at the time.

CATHY 3 copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cathy Barber has an MFA in Poetry, Vermont College of Fine Arts, and MA in English, CSU East Bay. Her work has been published in a wide range of journals including the SLAB, Slant and Kestrel and in anthologies, including Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of Californiaand The Cancer Poetry Project Vol 2. Her poetry has been nominated for a Best of the Net. Her chapbook (Dancing Girl Press) is titled Aardvarks, Bloodhounds, Catfish, Dingoes.

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