Poetry 2013 / Volume 44

A Three Minute Response to Mary Oliver — Joyce Janca-Aji

Somedays I spend all day watching the tiny jumps of pulse
under winter skin so white, almost translucent
as if it were a sheet of ice under which rivers dove
downwards as if to crack the hard shell of the earth’s core
and recover a sense of ancient molten life.

Somedays I watch skin rise like dust from cracked backs
of hands, amphibial skin gone dry, slung over
whitened bones waiting to erupt from the floor
of some forgotten gully out back
where no one bothers to check if anything
still bothers to grow or fly or swim.

Somedays I watch the mist from my nose rise
when the door shuts behind me and the cold surrounds.
I think of dementors, despair, the dark
yet I am heartened that no one gives this breath
and that no one receives it, that this silver thread
of air makes its way in the world so freely
and never thinks to look back to see from where it comes.

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