Poem | The Plunge

(Eunice C/Unsplash)

 

Beside the Pacific there is a giant room
and in this room is a huge pool—
saltwater straight from the ocean
        and we call it the Plunge,
            unheated and housed right beside the actual surf.

This is the month inside the month,
the week within the week like the lungs in the body.
Even the air over this water is made of
water and salt, the first soil. The glow through
      the windows breaks into a strip of light beside
another strip of light and as I walk through this completeness,
       this world that does not need me,
I splash wet footprints on concrete colder than feeling.
       Dropping softly I am not soft at all—I make a splash,

a wide circle outward from where I cling to steps green
with the life that was the first morning, the plankton
       finding itself in the deep end shaped like a day,
a span from before a single bird to later, when
only the sound of traffic makes it seem there was
anything at all. Another

human figure walks the haze, breaking through the hubbub not
a sound but haphazard illumination, a reflection upward from
what I have broken, and shatter again every moment,
the healing, fragmenting chill that absorbs
each new visitor into sunlight.

Published in the May 2022 issue: 
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Michael Cadnum has published nearly forty books. His new collection of poems, The Promised Rain, is in private circulation. He lives in Albany, California.

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