Gone Lawn
a journal of literature
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Gone Lawn 29
Summer, 2018

Featured photograph, Levitation 1 by Christopher Woods.

New Works

Sheila Black


I love the story that they were always around.
And a music, a soundtrack before

there were soundtracks, No one knew where
they went in the winter. Under the ice

or sleeping in barns? And because no one knew
a slight anxiety over whether they would return—

a score to mark the days: canyon wrens in the morning,
loon oboes at twilight, and in spring, uniquely,

the mockingbird, tricking everyone—lovers
the aged, to wake and feel the groaning

greening of restless trees. I love the story
that they might be our souls or pieces of our souls,

or our ancestors coming back to give us obscure
messages: Little red, little blue, flash of

white breast, some scrap to live by, a folded
note to explain why we don't know what

we are doing. I love that they might be
Gods, listening in: passing judgement; so easily

overlooked; yet so powerful—able to summon a
sun or moon on a whim. I love that for so long,

so faithfully, they returned and returned, and that
people thought their prayers allowed this.

I love the story we tell now of how they fly
across an ocean, along the coast of South America,

all the way to the Antarctica. In Denver, crossing
a four-lane-highway in the middle of the night

during a blizzard, I found myself in a flock of Canada
geese. They came right up beside me, prodding

my legs. They were big enough I felt a little
afraid, but also that I might lie down and sleep

among them, stuffed warm in their bed of feathers as if
I were that girl in the fairy tale who believed herself

entirely alone, not recognizing that the swans
in the lake beside her were her lost brothers.

Saint Pancreas

I never thought about the pancreas,
though there was a train

station called something like that,

large and dun-colored with a saint in front
of it—or perhaps I am misremembering,

that organ, which filters something unseen,
the slow subways by which the body

sighs, renews itself. I saw it take him
and now you, the cast of that valley,

the tunnel down and through.

You always wore hats like some survivor,
the thin-cheeked look of stretched—

bright. It was only that you tended
to hum at a higher temperature, acute

to the cruelty that is the other side
of love—bright coin which keeps being

tossed, bet on, and tossed
again. But I am thinking of that station,

I am—though I should not be, brooding
again over the weight of myself or

perhaps merely my memories. How
short a time for tea on a glass porch,

how short a time for black-eyed susans,

and the small sweet tomatoes that succumbed
so quickly to curly top virus in that

desolate town where we were both marooned
and did not know we were

happy. I used to see you with your own
true love, leaving the health food

market, bottles of vitamins in the small

red mesh cart. And later when we met
for poems. You liked to type your

comments. You liked to use white-out

and cut and paste and bang the keys like a refugee
from that departing century you still loved

which taught you to fear authority and
trust instead in the Dionysian, always.

Where are you? I know the rooms, the

kind of rooms where they will place you.

I know that white doughnut, blazing tunnel
of artificial light and how the skin appears

inside it so utterly material and frail at

the same time. They will tell you to take
the coins from your pocket. They will warn

you of the dangers of forgotten keys. They
will strip you, and wipe you with sanitizer.

And you will breathe as you have learned
to do from women in yoga pants in wood—

paneled rooms with floral signs and views of
parking lots and Thai restaurants, knitted

wind-kites trailing from windows. You will tell

me there are postures for this, and you will
practice them and add your own elaborate

glosses. I know this because I know above all
else that you are curious, know you will not

be able to resist, greeting even this with a
flush something like the rush of

infatuation, hissing spark that runs

deep in the bowels of that station whose
name I am surely misremembering. Does

it matter where the train goes? Or must we
simply let ourselves lift into that that sudden

cold whoosh that blows through from the
tunnel, the shuddering rooms that

streak past, full of people and lights?

Sheila Black is the author of four poetry collections, including "Wen Kroy" (Dream Horse Press, 2013) and "Iron, Arden" (Educe Press, 2017). She is a co-editor of "Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability" (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011) and "The Right Way to Be Crippled and Naked: The Fiction of Disability" (Cinco Puntos Press, 2017).