We are all midnight swimmers in a cosmic sea.
– Robert Van der Cleave
I lie down on your bed and talk you to sleep.
It’s easy now. Already your arm under your pillow
is pulling through brine shrimp by the billion.
Around you the jellies gently pout and pulse,
their umbrellas hauling along ghostly ribbons,
breathing and eating being the same ballet.
Soon I will slide down this continental shelf too,
past twilight blue mussels swaying with the waves
and oysters licking their pearly wounds.
I’ll meet you among the ships flying their kelp flags
through submarine canyons. Down, down I go,
my nightgown a see-through swim-bladder,
the Pleiades twinkling in my wild hair.
I might be almost beautiful again, as I soar
among undersea peaks, my face free of its mask
of worry, my arms open wide as if to pour
the entire shimmering Andromeda galaxy
at your feet. Who taught us to love like this?
To slip out of ourselves into this long current
breathing us so easily in and in and in,
then out again, imperceptibly new.
Margaret Holley’s fifth collection of poems is Walking Through the Horizon (University of Arkansas Press). Her work has appeared in Poetry, Gettysburg Review, Shenandoah, The Southern Review, and many other journals. Former director of Bryn Mawr College’s Creative Writing Program, she currently serves as a docent at Winterthur Museum.