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Subterranean

by Jill Bialosky


She did not know when it would happen
or how it would overtake her
or whether she would allow herself.
All I know is that she could not take it anymore
lying day after day underneath the hollow tree, waiting,
consumed by a kind of fire,
wondering if there is a type of love
that saves us and whether there was more
to the world than the familiar paradise
of her mother’s complicated and vivid garden.
She smelled nectar in the labored-over
chrysanthemum and amaryllis,
but could not taste it.
I know if it were a flower it would have bloomed
in the cumulus overhead
void of volition and sin,
translucent as the filmy underside of a leaf.
If it were an animal she would have followed it,
but it was amorphous as feeling, weightless as dust,
turbulent as an entire undisclosed universe
radiating from the inner core beneath the earth
and, still, she longed for it.
Restless, she wandered from the elm
to the school-yard to smother an intensity
she could not squelch or simmer.
The wind swooned. Cement cracked. Deep into the underbelly
light traveled, no one in sight but his immense shadow,
and then a figure appeared out of the imagined dream
and matched it. So powerful, not for who he was
but for how her mind had mAGNIfied him
like a bug underneath cool glass,
every antenna and tentacle aquiver.
No sign of where she had been
or whom she came from. Only knowledge
that it would never be re-created again
except by this: putting words down on a page
and that she had forever compromised
the joy of summer for a dismal, endless winter.
And as the field of force gathered,
raping every last silvery bough,
tantalizing each limb,
she forgot even the feel of herself.
When it was over she felt moisture. Rain.

 

Jill Bialosky is the author of The End of Desire (Knopf, 1997) and a forthcoming book of poems, Subterranean, to be published by Knopf in December 2001. She lives in New York City. (2001)


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