By Julie Gard
She is Aphrodite, Circe, every goddess who came before. On her knees day after day: have you any idea? To nurse the child, raise the child, and dwell in the simplest cold. She sees with her body, through herself, and is the outside color. Today white gray, tomorrow blue. Blue suits her, but listen to old Mary. If you want your own life, don’t become every color. Weep and go on, says the mother of God. She has felt how everything moves.
Straw under you, dry against feet and fingers, warm poking straw. Your halo constricts and your brain is suspended in light. You go in the straw and your smell is the smell of the animals. You have no fur, no yellow school bus. There’s a pattern to enough. You’re a thin-fingered creature with scratches for toes. Such is love.
Come here old man with your bent lamp, listening and leaning into the tableau. Spare shoulders that built carts and houses, that chip on your thigh. You’re a period piece in demure swathes of fabric, all outline and shadow. Jesus gone at fourteen and the dark hut too empty, Mary working nights. What do you do in the drop-still evenings with the cats? Where do you go, Joseph, in the dullness after dinner? I see you begging for fuel at the corner of 8th and Jerusalem, just enough to get home to Pennsauken. Lost on the corner in your long-ago outfit, lamp swinging out of time.
Julie Gard’s prose poetry collection, Home Studies (New Rivers Press), was a finalist for the 2016 Minnesota Book Award, and her chapbooks include Obscura: The Daguerreotype Series (Finishing Line Press) and Russia in 17 Objects (Tiger’s Eye Press). Julie’s poems, stories, and essays have appeared in Gertrude, Fourth River, Clackamas Literary Review, Crab Orchard Review, Ekphrasis, and Blackbox Manifold, among other journals and anthologies. She lives in Duluth, Minnesota and is Associate Professor of Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Visit her website: