“The Redistricting of Anticipation & Dread” by Duncan Campbell

14 February 2020 on Poetry   Tags: , ,

Our inclination is to assume witness
for the grand & inevitable.
Many, for example, believe the world
will end in their lifetimes.
Imagine—languor of booted feet suspended
out the passenger window, 
laces dithering in the automotive breeze. 
A sign just outside the village wishing 
a safe journey. Clouds 
looking strangely brutal 
with sunlight. Your partner 
polishes a thread of spinach 
from their teeth beside you. Holding 
hands. & then, suddenly, 
vast light crumbling the horizon. 
Or, good souls lifted by the collar 
into the sky as trumpets swell.
So much for the vacation, for all 
that you loved: sigh-sound of low waves 
licking the shore, the sticky brine 
that left a bitter taste even hours later 
as you kneeled to kiss 
your lover’s hidden skin. 
I was by the lake again, the farmhouse 
& wood porch. Within earshot, a friend
mocked what I stood watching in the field.
Everyone laughed, & I do know 
what the fireflies will do
to this poem—destroy it,
but I’ve decided it best 
to do so. With their fleeting biology,
they burned little flecks of light
into the whole field.
Only a day earlier & far away 
I watched Inez, a dark shirt 
in darkness, as a firefly landed there 
to illuminate her. Everyone else 
seemed to have forgotten us.
No one ever says the ear needs a voice.
Despite all this catastrophe
& talk of its potential, I don’t believe 
we are our own departure. We’ve written 
the stories already: an ancestor 
walking into the new city of ease. Forever
they say. My children will live here forever.
But the end of the world is like this: a child, splashed 
with blood, lights a lantern 
in the quiet. & that is all.

***

Duncan Campbell lives in Vermont and works in community services for children and young adults. His poems have most recently appeared in The Mackinac, Rust+Moth, and Tinderbox. You can find him on Twitter.

Windswept is an acrylic on linen paper by Sean Johnson. Sean was born in Houston, Texas where she attended University of Houston. There she majored in Education and minored in Art. Though she has always been a writer, her interest in visual arts began in 2014.  Since that time she has been a featured painter, exhibition artist, and vendor at Block Market, Black Girl Excellence, Survivor Seminar, Midtown Arts Center, and a host of other events.  Sean has had two art exhibitions to date, and her work has been published in The Hunger, Boston Accent Lit, Homology Lit, Les Femmes Folles, unstamatic, and Street Light Press. You can see more of her work at her website, here.

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