The Sea of Cortez

We thought we’d snorkel,

She and I,

my friend,

my courageous companion,

sisterhood of adventurers.

We thought, we’d snorkel,

in the sea,

the Sea of Cortez;

playing in the bathwater,

and brine.


There at the edge of the sea,

the Sea of Cortez,

we donned our masks and snorkels,

masking my fears and trepidations,

forgoing the fins in lieu of shoes

against his rocky shores.

We would need the protection,

tender feet against

the craggy face of the sea,

the Sea of Cortez.


She swam out,

braver than I.

I remained along his edges


neck deep in his brine,

putting my face in and peering

at the underworld of the sea,

the Sea of Cortez.


Red crabs gripping the sides of brown rocks,

yellow stripped fish darting about

in small schools,

tiny silver bullet fish

exploding across the scene,

racing from this rock to that one.

The underworld,

exotic and exciting;

but the sea was rough.

I found myself

buoyant like a cork,

floating in the water,

off feet that

I had so securely planted

in the sea,

the Sea of Cortez,

victim to his whims,

tossed and tumbled,

yet rising,



I could feel the scream rising,

as I was rising;

I was out of control,

plaything for the sea,

the Sea of Cortez.

Surfacing and flailing,

again and again,

not allowing for the scream,

that sound of panic,

of desperation to escape.

I was prisoner to Cortez,

snorkel wedged between

gums and teeth,

an unforgiving silencer,

S & M device,

jammed into my mouth,

unable to be removed,

to be spit out.


This time of reclaiming

the sacred feminine,

this adventure in womanhood and

independence, lost momentarily.

I willingly allowed,

and even placed this

breathing apparatus,

this device,

this artificial breath in me,

only to take from me my voice,

my voice at a time when I

needed it most.


“Pull it out!”

“Pull it out!”

“Speak Sister, Speak!”

“Speak your truth!”

“!Ayuda me!”

“!Ayuda me!”

“!Venga aqui,

venga aqui, mi amiga!”

“Help me!”

“Help me!”

“Come here,

come here my friend!”

I was speaking

both to myself

and to the selves

of all the years and all the lifetimes.

“Help me!”

“Help me!”

I was speaking to her,

my savior,

my ally,

my friend.

I‘ve become lost in the sea,

the Sea of Cortez!


Swallowed by a man,

tossed and tumbled

like so many times before.

How could I have

allowed myself

to be here again?

Silenced and battered

against rock and sand,

on my knees,


struggling against his force,

his whim,

struggling to keep

my head above water.

The irony of this struggle!

But I had overcome this,

again and again!

I would not let him take me,

the sea,

the Sea of Cortez.


I called again,

“Help, help,

Ayuda, ayuda!”

There she came,

like Venus from her clam shell,

emerging from the brine.

Safely in her arms,

in sisterhood,

I found my legs to stand,

and rose

once more from this man,

the sea,

the Sea of Cortez.


Refusing to allow him to

have his way with me,

I walked away from the sea,

the Sea of Cortez,

keeping an eye on him,

keeping him at bay,

allowing only his gifts of

shells and pretty things,

allowing him only to

lap at my toes.

2014 copyright by Katie Pifer available at

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