October 31, 2008

Cathryn Essinger

TO LEVITATE…

My mother swears she saw
              my baby brother rise from his cot
                            one stormy night when
                                          we were living upstate.

She was awake, checking the shutters,
              when she saw him levitate,
                            a foot or more, covers rising
                                          with him the way they do

in carnival shows, so you don’t see
              the wires. But, he lay soft and pliant,
                            a floater, weightless as
                                          a shadow on the wall.

“Something in the air,” Mother said,
              because she believed in such things,
                            and reminded us often that most
                                          children know how to fly.

And I do remember running down a hillside,
              breathless, the ground rising to meet me,
                            my heart lifting my blood
                                          so effortlessly

I knew that if I stepped out onto the air
              that it would hold me.
                            I may even have done it
                                          without realizing

how easy it is, before doubt takes hold
              and weds you to the ground.
                            Odd that we should forget
                                          such things.

Odd, too, when I tell the story
              how no one believes exactly,
                            but the room gets quiet
                                          and everyone listens.

from Rattle #25, Summer 2006