May 21, 2014

Margaret Holley

WALKING THROUGH THE HORIZON

It became my definition of summer, that July
full of dog days, in between jobs, in between loves,
a peace of idleness and heat punctuated by lightning,

when I wandered my two rooms barefoot on wood floors,
tall windows curtained in leaves, the cricket-pulsing air
conditioned by iced drinks and the fan’s hum.

Sirius the dogstar hid all day in the lion’s mane
of the sun, and with every step I took, a horizon I had
once looked forward to passed through my cells,

unnoticed as neutrinos—sunset after sunset flew by
unseen and only showed up in the west. The best
time to go out was 8 or 9 at night to drive under

Montgomery Avenue’s lamplit foliage, windows down,
radio low, and a rising rattle of locusts escorting me
home to another long novel, its endless sentences

making my loneliness feel almost 19th century, almost
someone else’s. I had nothing to do but wait for fall
to haul me up to speed and tear my rapt attention

away from the nothing, the quiet it rested on,
tropical days stalled in the doldrums, barely adrift
into evening, or August, or a tomorrow that promised

never to arrive, enchanted insomniac nights when
I’d float in a film of sweat in a sleeping house, safe
inside its moat of ferns from any news of the world.

It’s a memory I’ve hoarded for twenty-odd years
and still claim in moments of déjà vu when time stops,
its seed case cracks open, as a storm cracks open,

a whole summer happens in one hour, and I know again
what Plato’s paradise of souls awaiting rebirth is made of:
birdsong, thunder, green, cicadas, and heat.

from Rattle #20, Winter 2003

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