I devoted my life to her after I saw her sleep.
When she sleeps, she still hears everything—
the planes of her face shift as I speak to her,
but her replies seem all rote or nonsense.
When she sleeps she is like God and I am too
simple for illumination. My words sink like shells,
small petrified sea blossoms, into her conscience as
deep as the ocean. Still I stream to her hand.
If a seraph should ask me how I feel about her or
how I feel about God, my answers would hardly differ—
I could pray to both of them with the same words:
I am iris and anemone,
changing blood into petals to catch your rain.
You are the almond, the algae, the elephant calf,
too vast a variance to be more knowable than a secret.
My ardour is only a flower’s covenant with a sycamore.
Your love is the limitless patience that a continent can have for a leaf.
When she sleeps, I run my fingers over the spines in our
bookcase and hear the dead letters quaking, waiting to
be revived. I know that she will wake. I know that one day
God will turn to look at me. There is correspondence that will
not be lost on the way and if it does not arrive today it will surely
arrive tomorrow. There are happenings that are inevitable and
upon which the present entirely depends. We have fields of vision
but there are also fields beyond vision and there are those so
great that they fill all of the fields over and under completely, existing
mostly out of sight. Still we always know them a little. They are
implied by every persistence in an inhospitable place. I learned this when
I lived alone and my coat grew softer about me with age but hidden itches
multiplied in the fabric of my hours. The world was incomprehensible with
errors of transcription that I could never find. My deeds were shrinking lines
bordered on all sides by deafening margins. I was less than a dog then, for
dogs at least will be mourned. Yet that is when I was surest of her, most certain
of God and of that which must come. I knew them as some plants know water—
not because I had seen rain, but because were it not for the lake sleeping
deep in the aquifer, my leaves would have long ago turned to dust.
Jade Wallace‘s poetry and fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Canadian Literature, This Magazine, Hermine Annual, and elsewhere. They are the reviews editor for CAROUSEL and the author of several chapbooks, most recently the collaborative A Trip to the ZZOO (Collusion Books, 2020) and A Barely Concealed Design (Puddles of Sky Press, 2020), under the moniker MA|DE. Stay in touch: jadewallace.ca.
This poem was originally published in Vallum issue 17:1 Home.
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