Meryl Natchez

Last Words

Packing up the machine
that sucked the water
from the sodden floor,
I think about the note
Lt. Kolesnikov, the ranking officer,
stuck in the submerged dark 
of Section 9 of the Kursk,
as it lay on the bottom 
of the Barents Sea
when whatever happened
had happened
and there were 23 of them
left, all in Section 9,
the farthest away from the reactors.

He wrote it 
as the backup systems
failed, and despite
tapping SOS on the hull,
they knew they were not 
getting out.

As the air supply
thinned, the note 
changed from military detail
of the hopeless specifics
to a love letter
to Olga, his wife.

I am thinking about this
while my hands roll up
the cord and hoist the machine’s 
heavy body
into the trunk of the car,	
because we are always thinking
about something, whatever
else we’re doing, mostly
not knowing how much time
we have left, in the dark hold
writing blind.