H E R M E N E U T I C C H A O S J O U R N A L
In His Sleep He is Gone
Gone into sleep where no one can call him back, eat
his French fries off his plate, ask for help doing all
the things they don’t want to do for themselves, even
me, as I touch your shoulder and hip bone hoping
to alter your night breathing, feel you rise back
to me, back here, do that thing that always helps
me sleep, but on your hip I feel the mountain you
are walking on, and your shoulder is mossy with
places you long to go, so I curl away, close this
door, listen to the wind threading my lungs,
in a wilderness of hills I don’t yet claim as home.
The ocean was unintentional. It did not hate
me or even consider me at all. Before it, I could
not go east. I’d come from the west again
and again to this point, unable to go further, afraid
of boats, mistrustful but curious
about what is below, swimming a kind of posing,
intoxicating to touch the mystery with so little at stake.
But here I stand. I don’t care about my past.
South, the sun crooks a finger—this way, this way.
North is safer, saner: I can see comprehendible lights.
Once, I might have made a choice between these two
directions. Now, I stand into the holes being scooped
out below me in increments; I had no idea of this until
my balance was endangered. Like a dumb land
mammal, I keep hauling one flat foot up to replant it,
over and over, scanning the air for a sign
of what I can’t perceive with my gross senses,
something transcending what I know so far about physics
and space, time and intention, water from air, borders
between, spaces we pass over, as if space was something
we understood, as if we were solid, and not full of air
and water ourselves, sobbing for our singularity
though everywhere the opposite is being proved
if only we could stand still long enough to be moved.
Laura McCullough is a poet and prose writer whose essays, memoirs, stories, and poetry have appeared widely in places such as in The Georgia Review, The American Poetry Review, Guernica, PANK, Gulf Coast, The Writer's Chronicle, and others. Her books include Jersey Mercy (poems, forthcoming spring 2016, Black Lawrence Press), Rigger Death & Hoist Another (poems, BLP, 2013) Ripple & Snap (prose hybrid, ELP, 2013), Shutters*Voices*Wind (dramatic monologues, ELP, 2013), and The Smashing House (short fiction chapbook, ELP, 2013). She has edited two anthologies, A Sense of Regard: essays on poetry and race (Georgia University Press, 2015) and The Room and the World: essays on Stephen Dunn (University of Syracuse Press, 2014). Her poem, “There Were Only Dandelions” was selected by Sherman Alexi for Best American Poetry, 2015. She teaches full time at Brookdale Community College in NJ and is on the faculty of the Sierra Nevada low-res MFA and has taught for Ramapo College and Stockton University. She is the founding editor of Mead: the Magazine of Literature and Libations. Visit her at http://www.lauramccullough.org/
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