“Moon over,” Brad Leithauser

Scuba divers will sometimes drown
within a night sea
after confusing up and down.

It seems so basic — up/down — and yet,
immersed in a black neutral buoyancy,
the world’s boundaries all wet,

a person may mislay his only meaningful
compass — the heart in his head —
and mistake Earth’s centripetal pull

for that other mustering of gravity:
a firmament widespread
with stars, over a wind blowing free.


But the figure — the tiny figure floundering,
lost, in an unlit sea… He’s trapped
like a sleeper trapped in a raw, tightening

nightmare, who knows he knows a way out of here
though he keeps forgetting
the key.
How do we wake? How do we clear

the borne mind of its body and arrive —
gasping, half gone, not gone —
on the surface’s groundless shore, not just alive

but secure in the moon’s artful netting,
whose catch tonight may be one of those rapt
souls that thinks to see another dawn?