Two poems by Peter Leight

Port of the Present

There’s plenty of room,

as in an album you add pages to.

In the mirror it’s an empty space—

I often think it is lacking in depth, like the dioramas in the natural history museum.

Turning one way or the other,

it doesn’t make any difference—

nobody asks you where you were before,

or what you’re doing here,

it doesn’t make any difference.

The windows are round like portholes,

we’d like to have the view if it’s not too expensive,

when you don’t have a view you’re not looking at anything, I mean it’s not a view if you’re not looking.

Sometimes it feels like a waiting room.

Or is it a form of delivery?

Around the corner

you don’t even know what’s around the corner.

The edge is where it’s added onto

and chopped off like the curve of the moon,

where spread out gulls slide from side to side then drop down, touching the surface with curved beaks

as if looking for breaks.

The edge is where the boat comes in,

sometimes it is a ferry,

taking you from where you are

to where you need to be.

Then again it could be a cruise ship that sails around for a while then brings you back to where you were,

it never actually leaves the harbor,

a harbor cruise,

swaying like a breathing tank closed underneath

and open on the top—

you don’t even notice the gentle endless movement of the floor while you’re on the ship like an exhibit

that lasts as long as it takes to go through it.

There’s no need to leave,

nobody tells you there isn’t time,

or we can’t wait,

waiting takes a lot of time, when they ask you what you’re waiting for you tell them you’re not waiting for anything.




I don’t know if it belongs to me or if I’m just using it for the time being in order it to find the light—of course you don’t always begin with the idea you end up with. The walls are curved, an inverted trough, the distance lined with tiles, swollen or stiffened like a sluice rather than a hose. It’s quiet inside, dark and quiet, as if everything is sleeping. As if it’s past your bedtime. Not returning to what you were doing or returning to where you were, it doesn’t matter how much you want to. Sometimes I think you don’t even know where you have to go until you know where you’re going, as if you’re looking back at yourself from somewhere ahead of you. I’m more reserved than the others, or removed, more trusting—when I reach out so much is out of reach, I often think reluctance is a waste of time, and also impatience, run and stop, run and stop. I’m trying to keep my eyes open, although there’s nothing to look at, nothing to see except for the parallel lines of tile extending endlessly in the distance, there’s no need for navigation, I’m not even using my mind, not at the moment, waiting for the tunnel to leave me where the light is.




Peter Leight has published poems in The Paris Review, AGNI, FIELD, Beloit Poetry Review, Raritan, Matter, and other magazines.



(Front page image via)

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