In this dream he is the deep-sea diver
going down with his therapist, the ocean
body blue with cold, with a shiver
of flashlight pale and fading, digging in.

Three thousand feet. And still I keep seeing
them as astronauts of the underworld,
grown shadowless, bodiless, it seems,
and yet, what could be more fiercely willed

than breathing, more guarded than the angel
of our lungs. More near. The farther from home
the closer the chest; the tighter the skull,
the mask, the mortal circle. Look at him:

the way he hesitates, interring fathom
after fathom. Three thousand pounds above
both him and the one who counsels him,
or so he believes, being neither brave

nor sure of the deepest cliffs, the drone
beneath his small uneasy life. No sand
to breach, to shape, to lay his head on. Go on,
says the therapist, eager to proceed,

swollen with the progress they have made.
Such revelations like coins inside the water
of the hour, the exotica of the mind’s mind,
defenseless, manic, burning with dark matter.

And in days that follow the patient shuns
all glances but his own, dips in the black
target of his gaze, blind with visions,
swallowed in the spell that will not break.

Three thousand feet. Ask any diver in the flesh.
The dream knows, being water. Close, closer.
Look at his hands. The more they take the less
they hold. They too begin to talk, to quiver.

What do I say to them, once the blood rushes
to the center. Who will look after this cloud
when it fractures, when the tanks are crushed;
what darkened eye not knowing if it’s closed.

Bruce Bond’s collections of poetry include Cinder, The Throats of Narcissus, Radiography, The Anteroom of Paradise, Independence Days, and a new volume entitled Blind Rain just released from LSU Press. He is Regents Professor of English at the University of North Texas and Poetry Editor for American Literary Review.


First published in Measure, Volume 4, Issue 1 (2009)