THE MYTH OF MEMORY
I finally learned to dive,
and found joy mysterious and unsettling
hovered there: a sphere of longing
sublimed with the lake.
Below me all appeared an indeterminate lightlessness
the color of afternoon through spring-new leaves
or dawn’s shadow cast on grass;
above: desire quivering in a sunlit circle.
Well-mouth, cave-mouth, it shone
like virgin oil spilled on the surface
of a sea-born Paradise: compelling,
fixing my imagination
on its unknown and unlabled hues.
What color did it cast?
—I do not know.
That strange, inviting light held me;
I crystallized, became the prism,
casting scattered shafts
from each toe and finger, every hair.
Is it that light I long for in my dreams?
That shade of light
made mystery. In an underwater limbo,
suspense and longing intermingled.
I remember yellow, brown, and green;
and then a fading gradient into monochrome.
I was the center of something
all-surrounding, a type of solipsistic
smoothness drenching grace
over my land-clumsy arms and legs.
Delicious, like a taste;
refreshing, as if I drank and it were pure;
wet and pulsing like the act of love.
That unity in isolation seemed
the archetype of other, severed, pleasures:
I swam submerged and drowning in desire.
What did I desire? Not that muddy lake,
that real dive split in fragments by my five
unpracticed senses, spluttering in fact.
Not to catch the fascinating disc
of sunlight on the surface.
Not to stay and drown;
no, not to stay and contemplate, for
the very brevity of underwater music
gave a glimpse behind the veil.
Fish, submerged forever,
do not live suspended in a state
of constant wonder—or perhaps they do.
Maybe that explains the lack of eyelids,
gazing in a perpetuity of awe,
always awake, always in sudden shock.
Alba-cool, slick as satisfaction.
Everything that happens goes too fast,
and nothing is, but only was or has been.
It must be in memory meaning grows.
Without it, sehnsucht hovers
undescribed and unidentified,
while dives and sun-discs dissipate in time.
I never felt desire when I dove, but fancy joy
had stabbed me underwater
somewhere in the past.
Then I have longing only second-hand,
or not at all. It is just one of those
sensations people speak of, poets say.
If every minute lives at one remove,
have I ever had one feeling of my own?
Nothing is, but made in memory,
and my immortal longings mere charade.
I yearn to have a yearning of my own—
or say I do. I read significance in himmelslust
as if feelings will be real,
as if every ecstasy will be itself
and every moment, lingering.
I live like longing unifies and re-embodies
in its consummation
and the consecration of desire.