Perihelion: An Online Journal of Poetry and Mayhem
The Phoenix Issue, No. 16, Winter 2008
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  POETRY
 
 
 
 
  H.L. Hix
  Marci Rae Johnson
 
 
 
  Jae Newman
  Geoffrey G. O'Brien
  K. Alma Peterson
 
  REVIEWS
 
 
 
 
 
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MARCI RAE JOHNSON

The Seven Days

   i.
Start with the window
the window the highway
the collapsing highway

start with the window the sky
horizontal the sky greener

than it should be
if the window
if the shadow

the green is not noticeable
only the eyes the window

the dried up stream
at the center of the city the dried up
fountain the statue of a god

or a man the hand
at the window closing the shades

it's the window that's moving
it's the train the scarecrow the outside no
it's moving away

the stripe of the telephone line
the stoplight's empty eye

the scarecrow without a face
it's the outside that's moving
it's the inside the window

the prayer the embrace
it's my head against your chest your

hand on my breast I want
to know what is it
that's standing still?

The train a stream
the tree a scarecrow

   ii.
I dreamed about the house
with the holes in the floor,
same as last time.

And could you see through
the holes to what was beneath?

I could see children playing.
They were playing in the sunlight
and everyone was happy.

There was nothing to frighten you
no monsters or ghosts?

Just the children playing.
And I woke up in the bathroom and
I couldn’t see.

Your eyes were closed
you were still dreaming?

No, I couldn’t see. Something
was about to happen or
something had already happened.

You were still awake
you were still dreaming?

There was something I was supposed to see,
but the floor was cold and my parents
were downstairs watching TV.

Did you speak to them did you
tell them about the holes?

I said, I am making all of this, the movement
of her knitting needles, the shadow
on the screen.

No one could hear
what you were saying?

They thought I said something about Jesus.
They gave me some orange juice and I watched
the news. There were children being killed.

And then you went back to bed
and you slept?

I didn’t sleep all night
and every time I woke up
there was another time to wake up.

Are you sleeping now
are you awake?

I see the sun coming up from the lake like fire
I see the trees walking out of the darkness
with their arms spread wide

Do you want to lean your head here?
Do you want my arms around you?

I want to see what you saw
I want to see the lake that burned, and the trees
I want to look through the holes again

   iii.
In the art museum there was a map on the wall.
There were lines on the map connecting
everyplace with everyplace

everyplace with itself.
You were sitting on the floor in front

of the map hiding
your face in your hair. We didn’t speak.
On the other side of the wall

there was something I wanted to see
but I couldn’t move.

Above your head there were faces
looking out demanding
that I speak that I

show them the map
but I couldn’t speak.

I wrote down some words
that later made a poem.
The faces are there, and the map,

you are there too
conspicuous in your absence.

I don’t know what the poem means
but it says what I saw
what no one else can see

what I wish
everyone else could see.

   iv.
You said look
there is nothing smaller than this.

I looked in and I saw
all the people on the shore and more
bread and fish, more and more.

You looked in and you saw
the people leaving the garden

the way barred with a sword.
You said you wanted to see what I saw,
so I looked again and I saw

the dark of space, the stars
drifting to their constellations

but you looked in and the stars
wouldn’t stop moving.
I said try again look again

but we were moving away fast
from each other and the stars

were moving away too,
the darkness took them
and it took you too.

Then the sky opened and I fell
through the hole I fell down

onto my bed and the morning coming in
through the cracks in the window shade
hurt my eyes.

I wanted the darkness back,
you.

   v.
You said to so I went inside the church alone
you said you couldn’t come
but you wouldn’t say why

the inside of the church
was bigger than the outside

the windows burned with color
because of the sun
on the floor there were stripes of light

light and dark light
and dark it looked like

a map it looked like
a map of the inside of my mind
or yours

I followed the map to the altar
and someone said or maybe it was me said

look up so I looked up and I saw
the light and the dark on separate
sides of the dome but the dark wasn’t

all the way dark
because of the moon and the stars

and the light wasn’t all the way light
because of the shadows someone said
it is good it is

and I looked and there were crowds of people
sitting in the pews so many rows

I couldn’t see where they stopped and the people
were talking in every language
I couldn’t understand what  they were saying

and the voice said again
I am making all of this.

This was in a language
everyone could understand.

And then there was silence except
for the sound of my breath
and somewhere a bird singing outside

the inside of the church was dark
but it was still light outside

you opened the door and I came out
blind in the sun.
I tried to tell you what happened

but my eyes had opened
and the moment was already gone.

   vi.
In the night you said take my hand.
The darkness was so thick
I couldn’t see you, still

I knew that you were there.
You pulled me up out

of bed. We were still naked.
I opened my mouth
to speak don’t speak

you said, look.
I looked and I saw

a light up ahead I saw
the shadow of your hand reaching up
to open the shade.

It was the sun coming up
from the lake and the lake

was burning with all
the colors of fire
and the birds were flying up

and down a fountain
from the flame. I said

maybe this is the end
of the world. You said
I don’t know maybe

it is only the beginning.
And then the train was moving

again and the sky was black
the sky was red you said
take my hand.

There was a bridge up ahead
that had fallen in and the people ran

from the flames their mouths
open

   vii.
and the window
was a mirror of smoke all

I could see was you
all I could see was me

you said don’t look back. Don’t
look back you said and I turned
to face you.