Until the mid-seventies the marines were here, speaking their clipped language, that imperialist stutter, firing rounds into the azure of the sea, dropping bombs on the scented hillsides. We are here, rocking gently in the bay, the myopia of everyday life making ordinary things blur into each other and loom large. I came upon a little book in the bilge about the Virgin Islands, "in full color." The colors are the colors of remembered vacations, dreams, cookbooks with faded yet somehow vivid photographs of ham and cakes with soft billows of icing. A confection of experience, old sugar mills framed in bleeding heart vine, tourists beside a chlorine-blue hilltop resort pool, palm fronds pendent across the bright sails of beached dinghies in two-dimensional perfection. It is not only the lack of three dimensions but the silence that, against all odds, perfects. This is what I found out the other day when I dove into the reef. Suspended above the swaying coral--pale purple, yellow, olive--watching the fish move in their separate society, live rounds of ammunition crusted with life, I saw the clear blue underside of a wave. It bowed up like the mystifying sine curve from high school math, and I thought how obvious some things become if you examine them in their natural setting.