This Is Where I Learned Heat

by Endija Lukstina

Morning light pours through the infinite windows of Sir Duncan Rice Library / filling it with tints of white and gold and perfect blue / everything is calm and hazy yet / the boats docked at the entrance, the garden that spreads through the top two floors and spills down through the holes in the floor, vines and leaves and greenery that feel prehistoric / filling the place always with air that makes you float a little bit above ground / a luxury, really, this air / helps you master underwater breathing / I am old enough to remember my lessons, to remember the first time I inhaled purposefully underwater / and how natural it felt / the pull you feel in your limbs, like being back inside / your mother, earth mother, a mother / they say if you do it in open waters when the moon is full, you will become one with whatever is left of a heaven and leave this place of oversaturated colors / I am still too afraid to try, but what a way to go / I cannot tell you how long it has been, the seasons change so irregularly and harshly that it has become pointless to try keeping up with the years / I cannot tell you how old I am / old enough to remember sunflowers, roses / to remember babies born without webbed fingers and gills / I wasn’t shocked when I saw the first one come out, little creature from the uninhabitable lagoon / it only makes sense / life crawled out of the water millions, billions of years ago, and now the water is reclaiming it / and spitting it back out / we are all baby-turtle-racing, chewed up on borderless coasts, and that is our great ache / these days you are lucky if you do not have water where you go to sleep / at high tide, the ground floor is knee deep / long ago they realized it was pointless to try and keep the water out / it finds its way in / when it snows and you are on the inside looking out, the way it settles on the waves makes you calm like a praying mantis, it is the only relief you get / I remember Rome, and seeing snow fall through the oculus at the Pantheon / I remember when I thought it was impossible for it to be this hot in this place / I remember driving past the fields, through the cliffs, the forests, thinking, there is no way this will ever disappear / looking at trees and being certain they will still be there when I am far away / imagine thinking a tree will outlive you / now I don’t know what the day entails / I remember fighting for a place on a boat / friends and my tattered sleeping bag / I remember marriage, tradition, ceremonies, guitars / maybe I will find myself a creature from the depths and let the water have its way with me / so many things I thought would outlast me / daybreak now, I am looking at the sea from the top of the library, and she is the only thing that will