A Blind Spot, Awash

And if I give up on consequences 
is that despair  
or passion? I can’t protect  
myself from either. The lantern swinging  
bearing down, pressing the dark  
to a sliver  
of shade at the edges of my field  
of vision. My body alight in  
the seat of this question and indecisive— 
if to be moved through,
the groove in the thoroughfare.

I felt reduced waking up 

crumpled by the water, an amniotic curve 
along the shore. My only shape
was having been carried,
left at rest. And everything
I thought I could lose—
when I followed the rushes back, resurfaced.

Wings tucked just so or grasses threaded 
gently from ear to ear, rewiring their small 
skulls. I understood the first mercy  
             of diving is blindness, those parachutes blooming
                        the drag that yanked me back 
to my body, almost touching my lungs.


Copyright © 2022 by Tobi Kassim. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 10, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

This poem was written at a time when I rode many trains from Connecticut to D.C. The tracks pass through marshes lined with tall grasses. I often wondered what the opposite side of the safety of the train window would feel like, and this question stirred a mix of fear and desire in me. This poem is an attempt to live in the suspension between those feelings and put off resolving them. What first felt like a question about danger became an exploration of the leap of faith, or what it might mean to decide to live.”
Tobi Kassim