A Night Dive

Brad Leithauser

  It feels so much
Like waking, this
Rising after
Forty minutes
Under forty
Feet of water;
And to fill your
Life-vest, breath by
Breath, while floating
Nearer a moon
Mounted just high
Enough to have
Lost all trace of
Gold and have turned
A cool silver
Is seemingly
To come at once
Greatly before
The drawing source
Of every blood-
  Tide sleeplessness.

  For where, unless
In sleep, have you
Done this before –
Climbing, a lamp
Strapped to your wrist,
Up from the paired
Embers of dim
Crustaceal lives
Fast in polyp-
padded pockets
At the bottom,
From moray eels,
So much like slow
Flying snakes, from
Schools in flurried
Scatterings and
Voluminous
Fans tenderly
Engorging what
Squiggling minims
  The current brings?

  To rise, through rings
On widening
Rings of coded
Compartments-in-
Flux, up to glimpse
Just overhead
The surface where
A kit of bones
Goes dancing like
A skeleton
On a mirror,
And with a crash
To shatter it,
To throw the sea
Clear off your head,
And find the boat
Where it should be,
Nearby and yet
Not yet so near
One cannot feel
  Oneself alone

  (Alone within
A sort of field
Where the moon takes
The shivered path
Of a paving
Older by far
Than anything
Pick and shovel
Ever aired) is
To confront, and
As though at last,
The stripped, whited
Ruin written
Into every
Sketchy neural
Blueprint ... and yet
To confront it
With a moving
Tranquillity,
A long inkling
  That one’s fears, too,

  Are trifling. You
Will come purely
To nothing is
Of course its pain-
Fully unmixed
Message, but who,
Adrift, head moon-
Touched here, could fly
The illusion
That it’s enough
Merely to be
A warm, blooded
Body within
So vast a sea? –
Or that other,
By which even
Ever-lightless
Depths are richer
For having some
Mobile mind fee-
  Floating upon them?