(The Cave of Swimmers, Gilf Kebir plateau, Egypt)
I’ve decided to take up a sonnet-writing challenge. Haven’t written one in ages, and I actually don’t remember ever having written a worthwhile one.
I’ve been mulling over this dream that has surfaced quite often ever since I could vividly remember my dreams: My house has become a pool, flooded with water, and I’m navigating the rooms as a swimmer, I’m breathing like a fish and I don’t know how. I realize at some point that the water has disappeared, or I’m not certain if there was water to begin with. In other similar dreams, I see fish floating about in the house as if it were a huge tank or as if I were snorkeling, except there is no water.
Sonnet for Swimmers
The house submerged, a ship whose days are lost
in sunken light and marooned nights, no sound
explains its muffled source or breaks the frost
steeped in doors and windows. In distance drowned,
the floors and walls succumb to water, wait
like darkened wings of an aquarium.
It’s hard to tell how I once was, the weight
of depth growing new lungs and mouth. Phantom
fish come through the ceiling, muted song birds.
They glide from room to room searching for air
and think, like me, they come from somewhere words
belong. Asleep I always glimpse them there;
Awake, I don’t know if I swim or fly,
if fish had ever dreamt their houses dry.