I am alone, forty feet down, under the ice.
I told the people who love me that I wouldn't do this. A massive iceberg looms above me, blocking out the sun, cutting me off from the surface. One more broken promise. There might be a rule in the scuba diving canon that I'm not breaking at the moment, but it's not for lack of trying.
If I swim close enough, the iceberg's surface is a finery of ancient frozen bubbles and gentle melting curves. From a distance, it seems a hulking beast. The sea, flirting with freezing even in the height of summer, is cloudy with life of an almost primordial nature. Hundreds of small jellyfish float past, their tendrils fragile enough to dissolve with a touch.
Above me, there is light and air. Below is 1200 feet or more of cold, still water. I hang suspended, listening to the pop and crack of ice, my hard breathing, blood rushing in my ears, the weight of my conscience.
I am alone and adrift in a cold sea, looking hard into the darkness. Below me, the green fades to a lifeless black, but I don't have the courage to go deeper, to plumb the depths in search of judgement or redemption or finality.
I turn instead to surface, swimming back toward the light, the sun and the world of the living.
August 16, 2009 - Hinlopen Strait, Svalbard, Norway