Michelle Boisseau (October 26, 1955 – November 15, 2017)
In the middle of my life I lost my way.
I knew my turn was coming, coming
around the bend. And there it was.
The crows calling over the shoulders
of trees stretched the space wider
and wider like the circles a focal
dragonfly sends around itself on a pond,
but ahead of me something was
taking up all the space. It was dark
and slippery like things that don’t breathe,
and it was so humongous I couldn’t
see how close it was or get a feel
for its edges. The thing was there
was no straight way, no mythic down
and down a spiraling code to climb
up and over a frozen stiff and into a night
freshly laid with the standard stars.
My way had turned into a knot polished
smooth as a platitude and I was
to lie down in front of it, stupid
and stymied by malignancy.
Standing there with my way knobbled,
my life (which is all I have to go on)
seemed odd as a word turned over
and over until it hatches into shatters.
By turns the tongue in my mouth
was a frog jinking against my palate
or a wad of soggy pulp. You can’t talk
your way out of this impasse, said the crows.
You can’t hold in the rings of time
said the trees, switching their branches.
And the knot? Naturally it was mum.
Obsidian and vitreous, it gleamed
like a symbol while the tumored
forerunners crabbed my lungs.
Breathe deep, turn the tides inside you.
In the middle of my life I lost my way
(or was it more toward the end?)
and I wandered an abrupt gigantic day.
I saw the trees were upside down
waterfalls and the crows were flying veins
of air. Each crow shook its singular crow history,
each tree a history of flying in place, a congress
of beetles and mushrooms which are
the fruit of a tree that grows underground.