Hegira

by Judith Skillman

 
First you must long for flight.
For shapes, patterns and colors
to be destroyed as you run past
familiar strangers. You must not tell
your dreams to mother or father,
which means you’re a child again.
You live on a hill with a soft name.
Animals, ceramic, in the barn,
chicks beneath a red-hot light.
You never leave by degrees—rather,
all at once, scooping up your own arms
and legs, rallying for this exodus
from the whole world,
the one Mohammed left, and Jesus
before him. What can you carry
on this journey? Only the stuffing
in your head, cotton batting,
a small vial of water, perhaps
a bit of braided rope for when
you get to the place where faith,
belief, and action are imminent
and, standing in the same boots
on the same border of time
and distance, Hajar or Bubba
pull the pail up, straining
with thick arms and legs
from the androgyny of age.
See to it that you capture its rim,
thin and phthalo as the edge
where sky and sea meet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Judith Skillman’s new collection is House of Burnt Offerings from Pleasure Boat Studio. Her work has appeared in Tampa Review, Prairie Schooner, FIELD, The Iowa Review, Poetry, The Southern Review, Midwest Quarterly Review, New Poets of the American West, and other journals and anthologies. Skillman is the recipient of grants from the Academy of American Poets, Washington State Arts Commission, The Centrum Foundation, and other organizations. She taught in the field of humanities for twenty-five years, and has collaboratively translated poems from Italian, Portuguese, and French. Visit http://www.judithskillman.com

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