Gone Lawn
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Gone Lawn 31
Winter Solstice, 2018

Featured artwork, Batty, by Holly Day.

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Susan Leary

Joyful Poem

If anything, joy is the discovery of a solitary bloom in winter. The subsequent wish for a thousand violets purpling onto snow. At midnight, wind chimes deafen the imagination. The atmosphere so shrill even the hard ice feels faint.

From the window, moonsmoke wafts the fragrance of an evanescent history & in the distance, stars can taste their own burning. It's true, winter cannot help but sound like spring depositing fruit into the reckless forest of a mouth. Almost as if scripture were revised.

As if it were, in fact, God kissing Judas in the Garden. Except I'd rather believe joy the refusal to save all the world's bravery for oneself. Elsewhere, wolves gather enough sky to map the shadows of their bodies onto slivers of disappearing light.

Precisely why sleep invented dreaming, that we come to eavesdrop on some unknown inventory of the self. Even in grade school, my teacher instructs the iris is the most skittish part of the eye because it wants only to flood the tragedy of its perimeter with a microscopic measure of sun.

Are you surprised, then, when I tell you joy is only sadness from the outside looking in? That winter makes of every wolf, a mother. Their unabashed bodies bruised from risk & wilding, though in the snowbanks, a field of imaginary flowers prospering 'til spring.

My own mother reminding how poetry makes of me a greedy, greedy girl. That at daybreak, I am compelled to take the blue from the sky for you. & you will trust me when I say, the sun can no longer thieve joy from the warmth of our humanoid bones.

X-Ray Impression #1: Alternate Eden

The doctor says 60 degrees, but at the right angle, it is possible for a woman to dream ability to rebuild a man's body. To imagine his deformities to be less rare & more God-like. More exquisitely hallowed-out. The precise geometries of a curved spine but the wrecked bones of Adam restored in their digging-up & returned to a contraband paradise. Where measure for measure, there exists opportunity to distinguish between punished & progressed. My husband's ribs a now distorted spell, where electromagnetic waves capture not an eternal glitch but the ghost of a cottonmouth uncoiling in its slow exit from the reeded underbelly of a wet earth. Such that we will come to know a condition in which we seek to alter nothing. In which we see the marvelous clairvoyance of a body that believes in its own ability to live.

X-Ray Impression #5: Death House (in Pisces)

When asked 'What happens if it gets worse?' I think, there will come a day when every child is sunk in the river & still there will be no consequences. Wildflowers will continue their sprawl along the bank & in the distance will be funerals by thousands.

If I've learned anything, it's we can spend a lifeful of afternoons warding off water & still not ward off fate. Each night, I defer to the stars, though no one explains that within their fossilized brilliance are the infinitesimal ghosts of a rainstorm once forsaken by earth.

What good, then, is one man's fear, if every man should fear the flood? Though it's possible I use fear here incorrectly. My husband prefers 'wishful thinking.' Believes it God's offering of preemptive penance to a body for its lifetime of failings in self-desertion.

In either case, I want to stop asking questions as if the answers were a fair enough distance away. Tell me, should the future come to lack a horizon, what will one say to water when water will have drowned itself dead?

All I know is there is no use knowing whether or not there will be peace. Trust me, even the split-open sky lacks a verifiable logic, though it reveals itself as Heaven.

Susan L. Leary is a Lecturer in English Composition at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL. Her poetry has been published in many print and online journals, including Into the Void, Arcturus (Chicago Review of Books), The Christian Century, Crack the Spine, After the Pause, and SWWIM (Supporting Women Writers in Miami) among others. She has been nominated for both the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and her chapbook, This Girl, Your Disciple is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in 2019. Aside from her website, find her at @susanlleary.