Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 1
Autumn, 2010

Featured Excerpt

New Works

Kathryn Rantala

Sand (a triptych)


She rests or nestles in a niche between the Sphinx's arm and chest, her weariness a holy glow. The breath that comes from her is: slow. slow. slow. A bloom or foundling or her boy experiments with breathing, small against her, proportionately slow. She shifts, a tantraic wisp ready for transcendency or sleep and thinks as far as glory takes her: to her rug, her tea, her flat white bread, the curved pan she cooks it on; all behind her now. Will she eat again, perhaps as someone else. Or has she. Will her donkey turn to camel and with hinged flopped feet climb the face of ruined stone and rest with her. It is the only moving thing. What sound would one more make on altered rock. And would the sphinx awake from—what. What is the sound her life will make against her. And will she sleep. Everything a wonder. When her eyes have partnered for her deeper rhythm s, the steadily cycling breath and blood, will it be a human voice that wakes her. Will she drown.

The Nile

Egyptians say, "Oh God, if I come back to this earth, please do not send me back as an Egyptian dog." Then, "Oh God, if I come back to this earth, please do not send me back as an Egyptian donkey." Then, "Oh God, if I come back to this earth, please do not send me back as an Egyptian woman." She reaches to her donkey. The square stone houses of her village turn to face her mind—holes for windows and door holes, empty of the screams they'd frame with hands if only they had them.

Emptiness leeches the narrow valley of a place for her, resonates in the nothingness the ancients held at arm's length: the silty silence under wind where souls sift and feet settle, where she empties into spaces still empty.

The largest part of Egypt is the dead, the living in the verdant ten percent. Annually the Nile, plague and blessing, floods its narrow plain and scatters life between the two great deserts. Someone who would normally see may be thinking close to heart and wash away like soundless workmen in the tombs. Thus everything not stone is sand and eddy, a centering, draining whorl; the heart of living dust sculptures, and whom the gods do not devour merely go to sleep.

The Policeman

It is a scheduled time for walking up and down the street and to the corners. For finding trouble, here or there, and it is always there, as it defines him now. Cold, coiling from the sidewalk, climbs the statuary of his legs. For both a short time and eternity he remains in the alcove of the bank building, face up and outward, feeling for the first rays of morning.

Small and largest change the same, his wife and baby left him in the middle of the night, taking nothing but themselves—or was it middle of the day. All the same to him, he wakes from walking, talking or from sleep, aware as for the first time. But has the absence always been there or is it new. It bristles his skin, his guidehairs. Yet in some way, not a bad thing, he now more Policeman. Superiors are pleased; part of him on the run, crushed in the shards and shells of the Fayyum, dodging, darting, pulling up isolation like a cloak. Superiors are pleased. He has an agreeable sadness at tea; a loss that peers like crystal where all see escape, an enveloping cape. Less and more. He draws down deeply on his cigarette. Subtractions come to him in tamed ways.

And now another day begins. Light splashes reedy columns. He stands yet motionless, man on brick, acknowledging recurrent warmth; just as, at the rock-cut façade of Abu Simbel, above the cornice, Papio raises stone hands to welcome the sun god, Ra, who each day struggles to defeat the equal gods of darkness.

Kathryn Rantala's work is appearing most recently in Upstairs at Duroc and at JBStillwater.com, and in her latest book, A Partial View Toward Nazareth, a collection of prose poetry narratives from Casa de Snapdragon Press, Albuquerque, August, 2010. She is the editor of Ravenna Press and of the online journal The Anemone Sidecar.