This Was How One Lasted
I used to pretend I was a dolphin
when I swam in the lake.
I was a boy then, skin smooth
and untanned, because I read
all day on the lawn, my legs
covered by a blue towel, with a pine
tree marking my chair and book
in a high, clean shade, the light
tart needles of windblown air.
Twice in a day, only, would I
become upright, and go down
to the water, once before noon
and then again near evening.
I was thin and young, with shivers
and would wait for something
to call me in. Often I had no reason
to dive for an hour, staying there
watching the sunbathing girls
on the raft, turning slowly
along the chain that tied them
to the bottom, the gallon cans
filled with sand. Spiders, landed
like aliens on the moon of green
linoleum of that raft, made it their
ghastly headquarters, so I never
went there. Finally, I would walk in
until the line of my belly
was drawn in the lake, risen
over my startled penis, to join
the line, and descend.
I had no water eyes,
closed and forced a form
I was to plummet
straight free. This was
my extending moment-
all union and calm,
the sweep and underneath
of sensation, flight in the springs
that crossed my body,
heat and cold turned on
and off, like faucets, as I passed,
a fast and silent submarine.
Unborn, beyond exposed things,
saved in the water, I began with nothing
but hands and a lidded mind, and life
and thought through to the ocean
where I was elsewhere,
also, at the same time,
my bones a sweet bread, slid
into the mammalian sea, a knife.
I never came up on behalf of oxygen,
searched for pockets where
I stayed-my feeling was
this was how one lasted
after drowning and dead,
was better than above.