by Susan Johnson

We like to think we can leave one world for another
because one world or another has at times left us
sitting cross-legged as if cast in stone. Cut off
and alone like this free standing wall of water
broken from the falls that still fall spraying ferns.

Like one continent breaks from another leaving
a jagged edge. Like our language broke off from
the language of wolves. What a hoot you say.
The experiment of your life going on no matter
the shift in plates. You bite your lip when the first

waves break and again when the undertow tugs.
Your mind a big old bird mottled from molt perched
in the tallest tree. It looks down at you looking
down, scooping ashes from the stove, identifying
what remains after flames. As with some cactus,

you bloom not when there’s enough light but
enough dark and you have had enough dark,
enough depending on the kindness of strangers
who are sometimes just too strange. You sit by
a river often enough you start talking like a river,

mouth full of feathers, ears full of geese. Standing
on the bridge, there are swallows in your bones.
That’s what that buzzing is. Lost in layers of reflection,
you dive deeper into yourself even as your self becomes
more obscure. A tap at the door. Who can it be?

Susan Johnson’s poems have recently appeared in North American Review, Oyez Review, Off the Coast, and Kentucky Review.

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