Wednesday, April 29, 2009

From The Short History of the Federal League

Emily Johnson Awakes

Emily Johnson, seventeen, wakes
to birdsong, flowing sunlight square
across paint white plank floor bedroom
movement unexpectable like water shimmering
through glass plate window with shadow
cross bisected touching slow her bedpost
pink green flowered coverlet
rolling transverse across small space of her whitewashed
sleep, (she, kicking free the bedclothes to place toes, heels,
young skin of calf leg beneath night warm flannel
nightgown into the creeping yellow square
of dust motes dancing), to kiss at last
the waking girl-child where no man's lips have ever
dreamed to touch.

Rises now to birdsong increasing
barefoot pads to window, soles darkening
always patina of dust on floor uncleanable
wiping sleep crud from pale and milk-blue
eyes, indolent scratching through flowers
her soft desired butt beautiful,
sleep-raveled, blonde American
girl hair falling unarranged to shoulders
tangled over cheekbone perfect &
unwrinkled neck

Leans outward so into the grey
slow goldening air, breathes perfect
even to her nostrils, flaring
filling lungs, breasts untouched swelling
with soft now warming air
mixed scents jacaranda, bush
lavender her mother planted
the week she was born, now grown
almost twenty years to her second floor bedroom
windowsill; hears bees, somnolent new winging outward
unseen from hives lazy almost
racing each buzzing other for day's first pollen.

She sees in first morning light:
City of her first green birth
Roofs, black shingled,
Houses, grey or brown white painted
filled with people neighbors
known seen recognized since birth
Beyond, shops mercantile dreams & drams
of calico dresses apothecaries newspapers
telling stories from around the great & rolling earth
news of kaisers tsars & foreign speaking princesses
& beyond again, kingdom even of death,
the slaughteryard already wakening to low
distantly in air warming & again beyond even death
fields green of summer corn, high alfalfa, timothy grass
and in their midst, at the edge of town
the richer emerald watered green bisected
by rounded dust diamond, tricolor bunting &
even now, at six o'clock the sudden birthing morning
an old man walks limping through the shorn
dew gleaming outfield grass carrying
a folded triangle of red white & stars on blue
& at the right field corner at margin of fair & foul
unfurls, ties on & slowly, creaking, body soul
& flagpole, pulling downward on looped rope
raises winged America visible, distant
to the young girl leaning
into the rich blue sky.

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