by Tanya Jarvik
At my first float, I’m left alone in the dark with a body of information, my body: winking in and out of self-awareness in the warm saltwater, floating face up, hands down. Initially, I’m a collection of minor complaints, resisting quiet, resisting rest, resisting the time this is going to take out of my day. Then, bit by bit, I allow myself to sift and settle. I surrender to the experience. I stop holding my head up. I stop keeping my legs straight. I stop surprising myself every time I swallow. I stop listening to my heartbeats, my inhales and exhales, and the faint rumble of traffic that occasionally breaks the surface of silence. Now I’m nothing but a skeleton. A concatenation of spine and vertebrae, radius and ulna, finger bones, toe bones, ilium and ischium. A skull full of stars. I’m a tiny astronaut, umbilicaled to an invisible spaceship, like the picture on the cover of my father’s LP of “Switched-on Bach.” I’m one sustained note in a long song, a deep note. I’m a tree. Trunk, mostly, and two branches, the left one slightly bent, with a crown of feathery leaves high above the understory flora, moving in a thin wind. I’m a shark in the sea. A thanksgiving shark, shrink-wrapped in white plastic and trussed in yellow netting, grimacing on my kitchen counter, sandwiched between the fridge and the stove. My eyes snap open. Wide. A shrink-wrapped shark? I blink in blackness, considering the image. It’s clearly the product of my subconscious mind, which makes me wonder whether I’ve been asleep, and if so, for how long. I decide it doesn’t matter, and close my eyes again. Aloha.