Theirs is a slow and gentle courtship,
seeking one another in the sedges,
marking the swamp with a trail of scent.
They bellow loudly for days. When she
moves to deep water he follows; when
she climbs onto land, he lies beside her
on the bare bank, stroking her back
with a five-fingered hand.
He mounts her in shallow water, places
his head beneath the sensitive margin
of her mouth. Rubbing her throat with
the scutes of his neck, he blows hard
on the water, bubbles stinging her cheek.
He grasps her neck with his jaws, bends
his tail beneath hers. Everything is moving:
shadows on the delicate eyeballs, the lids
of their ears, the inner ear, eleven thousand
vibrating hairs. The light on the water shimmers
as it enters the narrow slits of their eyes.