Peter Leight lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. He has previously had poems in Paris Review, Partisan Review, AGNI, and other magazines.
I’m spending some time in a submarine, under the surface, floating around, do you believe me? Underneath and inside, in a small boat, just big enough for one person, quiet except for an occasional ping. Ping. Then nothing. The silence has a watery quality, a slow steady sip, a little gelatinous, without waves or irregularities. Water is a conductor, but there’s no flow or tide, no course I’m following or coordinates that I’m aware of, none that I have in mind. I’m not thinking I’m going to leave, not worried about going too far. Not concerned about returning. It doesn’t disturb what it passes through, a clean submarine, spotless, it’s never been soiled, and the water washes it off, columns of bubbles rising like bead curtains rubbing the sides of the submarine, breaking the way buds open up. There are shelves inside, books I meant to read but never got around to, there’s a limit on what you can bring with you, it’s hardly worth mentioning. The submarine purrs smoothly, gently, it doesn’t even feel like movement, resting in motion, in the stillness of travel. There’s no resistance that I’m aware of. There’s no insulation, I don’t even notice my body, is this a case, I wonder, of pure awareness? Am I a victim of mental browsing, the recipient of purely inactive and unadulterated understanding? It’s dark outside, and also light, as if there’s a light source inside a dark source, not flickering or wavering, a floating light that’s part of the unfiltered darkness, the shining darkness inside the light. In the window on one side of the submarine, fish draw near, as if they’d like to join me; they have delicate lips, mouthing their words, not in a language I’m familiar with, and large eyes with bulging pupils that see everything—I think they recognize me. Bivalves fly past, and starfish doing cartwheels, as if they want me to know they’ve made it this far. There aren’t any controls, no instruments or gauges, I think I expected this. It doesn’t even have an on off switch. I’m not sure where I’m going, it’s not taking me anywhere in order to leave me there, and when I empty my mind, it fills up automatically like the cup in the dentist’s office.