a pecha kucha for Evelyn
All those times Insight broke like a fever and
I called it something Other than what it was.
Oh, Houston! Mission Control! Looking down
from the chest of a silver bird, seeing layers
of clouds and the shadows they cast upon the Earth.
I see it now, what we are capable of, and that it takes
breaking free, from everything, to fly.
It’s like a birthing, she said, isn’t it? A birth
of knowing. And she was you, oh magic mirror,
prism we all are, one we see all the time
and call a window—more transparent than we thought!
Below, silver city, bling on a patchwork quilt of green
and brown. (Veins of rivers. Capillary creeks. Windmills!)
If this is Kansas, you are my cousins.
Clouds like arctic wasteland bare to blue:
they pass. (Ah, Insight! Oh, revelation! Oh, laugh out loud,
afraid to pee!)
There’s a man beside me, silver-haired, beard
a man beside him, silver-haired, beard
The first man wakes and reads.
The second man sleeps on, head in hands: a kind of prayer.
We choose our gods. Sometimes, we choose again.
Across the arctic tundra: mountains.
(No land in sight—these clouds a rising, reflecting light.)
Portal. A memory. Ice fishing with my grandfather.
Perfect hole, chipped through the ice. The green below.
And now I see what must be canyons, wound on wound.
The scabs within. It’s as I’d known: beauty.
And something that seems a clawing, a desperate beg.
And then, a cartoon crocodile face! Oh, geography!
You, too, like to play. You like to laugh.
I like these crop circles! Clocks and pie charts.
This one a compass, that one
with the river tail, a perfect sperm.
They give way to mountains, and I am sad
to see them go.
Mountains, then, give way to sand. I see a shadow
long before I see the cloud that cast it. I know
somewhere far behind us, a large black bird
crawls across the ground.
I no longer have names for what I see,
so will tell you this: of green chalkboards
and classrooms, my fear of geometry,
my love for books and the worlds packed inside them
(portals themselves). My father was a teacher—
is that redundant?—and he is old, and he is
dying. I follow, and no one will follow me.
But, somewhere, a slip of paper on the floor:
a cartoon crocodile, a wisp of cloud-smoke,
an arctic tundra. I am this sky I sail through.
You are this sky I sail through. He, she, it
is the sky I sail through. We are
a conjugation of knowing. You are. They are.
I don’t understand where sunlight shines
and where it doesn’t, and why.
The clouds themselves turn into fog.
Turbulence. Itself a metaphor.
And sweeping stewards, collecting trash.
I think ahead, to landing, to what it means.
Impermanence. There’ll be, again, a rising.
Yo! Rain below us! Whut up?
There is suffering. The choking green.
Damp. Moist. Trying to breathe.
And then: smoke. Moving. Swirling. Not a cloud.
It does not rise. And then, what seemed an algae,
mold, now is lush, verdant. And over there,
a valley, glowing, and past that, a storm.
A strike of lightning.
And here, oh here, the mountain landing.
Paula J. Lambert is the author of The Sudden Seduction of Gravity (Full/Crescent Press, 2012) and The Guilt That Gathers (Pudding House, 2009). A residency artist for the Ohio Arts Council Arts Learning Program, she has published her work in numerous journals and anthologies. She is a past recipient of an OAC Individual Artist Fellowship and was a resident fellow at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Her MFA is from Bowling Green State University. Lambert currently resides in Dublin, Ohio, with her husband Michael Perkins, with whom she operates Full/Crescent Press, a small but growing independent publisher of poetry books and broadsides.