To disappear you must determine the horizon, the little ache in the inventory, and fold the lake in half. This life is prepositional like a gallop through the thicket. Conclusion: Roost where some are lost. A field to stand in the color of milk. Windblown, westward into the, into the. An anonymous crush of dreams, and religion feels like one more hole I’ll never plug. I had a vision last Tuesday that next Tuesday—and time, like sleep, is touched and touches. I dreamed an aperture, a hinge, a wildflower. The real shame: To pretend to find it meaningful. Must a song always be a song? Yes, and we begin again.
As a kid, with broken twigs, we plucked, docile and unsinging, cicadas from beneath the surface of the Kentucky soil. Big-headed and dry, brittle and without aim, they emerged stoic and plump. What I was waiting for was impossible: Some rise of voice, a muddy nostalgia for something yet unlived. Tell me anything and then take it back. Failure is nothing but opportunity, hand over hand, gone wrong. If I touch the crumbs of my life, if I yeast together what I know with what I’ve forgotten, I get ringlets, tendrils. Anything can become an abstraction, but only that which lingers long enough to feel heavy in my palms is real. Put the seed in, help the tiny roots take. There is no faith because there is no time.
GARY McDOWELL has published seven books, the latest of which are Aflame (White Pine Press, 2020), winner of the 2019 White Pine Press Poetry Prize; Caesura: Essays (Otis Books/Seismicity Editions, 2017); and Mysteries in a World That Thinks There Are None (Burnside Review Press, 2016), winner of the 2014 Burnside Review Book Award. He is also the co-editor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry (Rose Metal Press, 2010). His poems and essays have appeared in American Poetry Review, The Nation, The Southern Review, Gulf Coast, Ploughshares, and New England Review, among others. He teaches creative writing at Belmont University in Nashville, TN.
Artwork by David Dodd Lee.
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