First the air is blue and then it is bluer and then green and then black I am blacking out and yet my mask is powerful it pumps my blood with power the sea is another story the sea is not a question of power I have to learn alone to turn my body without force in the deep element.
So far, things are moving pretty slowly. This is a poem about diving, and it took us a third of the poem to even get near the water.
In any case, things get going here.
The entry into the water is a rush for the speaker, and for us.
The light fades away as the speaker goes deeper, and that changes the color of the water.
It goes from blue to even bluer to green to black.
All of a sudden the speaker says "I am blacking out" (36), and we can almost feel the panic and the pressure and the choking feeling.
And then, just as quickly, things seem to be okay again. The mask fills the speaker's lungs, and everything clears up.
But even once that first panic is gone, the speaker still has to deal with the ocean.
She has to adapt to a new world, and figure out a new way of moving: "I have to learn alone/ to turn my body without force/ in the deep element" (41-43).
This is all about the scary, difficult process of transforming, of moving from one way of being to another.
Did you catch how the speaker brought up being alone for the third time? Do you feel like Rich might be overdoing it a little with the loneliness stuff? That's just Rich's way of letting you know that it's a major theme in this poem.
And now: it is easy to forget what I came for among so many who have always lived here swaying their crenellated fans between the reefs and besides you breathe differently down here.
All of a sudden, things have changed, and the speaker begins to feel at home.
(By the way, do you see how important those section breaks between stanzas are? Each one marks a big shift in the poem, a step forward in this gradual change.)
After this section break the speaker almost goes too far, and begins to get lost in the underwater world.
She is surrounded by the creatures of the sea, "who have always lived here" (46-47).
We are told that there is a reef, and that the creatures have "crenellated fans" (48). That's sort of a mysterious image.
("Crenellated" means that a thing has notches, little gaps along its edge. You know how the top of a castle wall has little openings in it, so it looks like it has teeth? Same idea here.)
Those "fans" could be the waving top of a fish's fin, or maybe a piece of seaweed that's shaped like a fan.
Either way, we start to get an image of a rich, beautiful world under the water.
It's enough to make our speaker almost "forget what I came for" (44-5).
Everything is different down here, even the most basic things have changed: "you breathe differently down here" (51).