by Elsa Johnson
are the granite and the cloud —
the eagle and the fly hatching in the flesh of the kill —
the lily and the dung in which it sprouted —
the ache in the crotch of the tree where the bough ripped off
and the hot rushed flower of spring
You are the sun scion blinding the day-dark stars —
both war-call and whisper
When the sky is turned on itself When one lies over a barreled bench like a sacrifice
on the face of the curved earth with the sky found in the bottom of the bowl
under the grassed dome of heaven — You are the world made right then wrong
then right again : Life and the life it feeds and the life that feeds it
germ at the seed’s core the last shock of birth fresh love’s first stroke
the wound’s whimper a great glad belling
There is a bench in Forest Hill Park that is shaped like a barrel. If you sit on it and then lie back so that you are draped over it on your back, looking up at the sky with your head in an up-side-down position, looking down the length of the Great Meadow, a curious phenomena occurs: The world becomes a bowl. It is like being inside a snow globe, with the grass that was at your feet now overhead, and the trees reaching into the sky, but the sky now the bottom of a large bowl. The way the ground has directional slope disappears, homogenized by the strength of this bowl perception. I’ve asked various eye doctors why this perception of space as bowl – no one can give me an answer. It any of you, dear readers, have a clue why this might be, please tell us.
At any rate I’ve tried to write poetry about this phenomena in the past, without success, but recently while writing a poem, I found the barrel bench and its effect creeping in. One of my poet friends calls it a psalm.