I’m beyond the depths now,
at least beyond the ones
I’d always thought were my home.
I’m a skimmer now. I never dive.
I can’t imagine the pressure there
and know I would not survive it.
I watch the younger ones go there.
I do not always love how they go,
do not always honor what they return with,
but that they can go at all, fearless and
sometimes wrong and dumb but still
willing, is enough sometimes almost
to kill me when it does not make me
swell with envy and pride for the work itself.
Now and then I stare back across
the surface I skimmed to get here
and tell myself that someday
I will go back for one attempt
to go deeper than before,
and then I look down at my feet
and realize I’m too often terrified
just to stand here
and hold myself upright
on the solid earth, and I know
that descent is no longer mine
to make, so I turn and watch
the younger ones taking my place
and see them coming back up
holding what was never meant to be mine.
I sit up in bed and stare at the ceiling
as if it is going to sink down upon me
like a car compactor at any moment
and push me into two dimensions from three,
and at the side walls as if they would slide over
to meet each other and take me
from two dimensions into one,
and then toward the foot of the bed
to see if that wall will come up
and crush my newly linear self into a single point.
A vanishing point, maybe.
A pixel on a screen, perhaps.
I have faith that none of this
will hurt, no blood will flow from me,
my bones will simply telescope shut
and compress into memory.
A single point seems indestructible enough.
A single point can slide through any catastrophe.
Infinite lines can pass through a single point
and it will remain indelibly itself.
I can do that. I can be myself,
reduced to holding infinity stretching
in all directions.
It seems far better to do that,
to enable that which remains,
to be a mere point
allowing others to intersect
and extend themselves,
than to wring these temporary hands
over the loss of my identity
to the weight of looming darkness.