II Poems by Cleveland Wall

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Liminal I

My lad and I take a short walk
to the bottom of the lane behind our house.
But the end of the lane is not the end.
Beyond lies a road, a swath of green,
a wild slope, and the railroad tracks.
Beyond the tracks:  canal, towpath,
river, mountain; and beyond the mountain
are shops and a cinema we know
because we have been there. Our minds can see
a thousand miles in every direction.
We can see around corners.

The green swath is mown we know not
by whom. The wind makes a blunted sound
against our hoods, the sky
more pearly than leaden.
A keening comes from the brush
as of a baby crying, but as we approach
it fades and resurfaces farther on,
more like a goat’s voice. It strings us
along to the end of the field
where, through a break in the bracken,
we see a truck beside the tracks below,
the complaint of its engine borne up
on gusts of wind which bend its shape.

The lad lies down on thick-thatched grass
and bids me do the same, which needs
a quelling of the grown-up injunction
to remain always upright in public.
When I lie down, it is quiet. The wind
rushes smooth, unimpeded over me.
The blank white sky develops
subtleties of grey, a visible depth.
Unseen geese honk; smaller birds fly over.
It occurs to me I am right on the line
between heaven and earth.

Then I see sparks flitting in the air,
bright on bright like angels escaped
from the head of a pin, and I wonder
if I could be seeing into another plane
in which these busy sparks are darting
all the while, unseen by mind or eye.
I tell myself it is my vision tripping
on a surfeit of light. But my son
sees the same sparks and has no doubt.

My Left Knee Remembers


I remember the future—
juicy, supple, spongiform—
what interstices collapsed
and rebounded there!
Edges kiss and part, kiss
and leap into new eras
of longing endured without
counting minutes, days, episodes
of chill and ache.
I remember the future
always arriving and I
on tip-toe straining for a peek.

Cleveland Wall is a poet, teaching artist, and librarian. She is the author of Let X=X and many chapbooks and zines. She performs with interactive poetry troupe No River Twice & with musical combo The Starry Eyes and has just launched an experiential poetry series called Poetry Lab at the Ice House in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Find her on social media @clevelandwall

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