I keep returning to what seems to be the same place but isn’t, the interior concave or
curved inward, curved in on itself—at first I thought it was an accident, but it happens
every time. When I mention this, people are embarrassed and turn away. Lit with tubes
and globes, not expanding like the vagrant universe on the periphery or shrinking, as
from modesty—it’s difficult to watch the minutes and seconds and also to keep an eye on
the hours. I’m trying not to hurry, I don’t want to get ahead of myself—waiting rooms,
for instance, are nothing to be ashamed of. Or parking places. Even the chambers and
flapping valves are designed to prevent backfilling or (even worse) self-absorption.
Gates open and are closed, and of course there are dividers, margins, shoulders,
sometimes I feel as if I’m driving in the darkness with the lights off, and I don’t even
know which side I’m on—how do you know you’re not working against what you think
you’re working for? Dismembering what you think you’re putting together? The
evidence often points in more than one direction, like a wounded animal that refuses to be
treated. There’s a lot of circulation, and complexities, I won’t call them obstacles,
because there’s nothing to overcome—I’m trying to concentrate on the distance I’ve
covered rather than the part that remains, but looking both ways reduces the amount of
attention you’re able to give each one. People often feel lost in places they’re familiar
with, they lock themselves in like guests in a hotel, longing for sleep. They’re afraid to
leave in the morning. It’s tiring, the feeling of unfitness for a particular purpose—my
lovely wife reminds me to rest for a while, but I’m not sure how much time I have.
Peter Leight lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. He has previously had poems in Paris Review, Partisan Review, AGNI, and other magazines.