Stallings

Paradise

Andy Stallings

The tide flows in, the tide
flows out. Swing defines its
range by the arms that give it
rhythm, and then moves on.
A lesser quotient, an integral,
a distinction of chance. I’m
swift to the wind at midday,
spooling your name
on a spindle writ large,
not random. Wings are a
facet of aging, said the surf to
its breeze, meaning waves,
meaning gradient and swell.
A sanctuary of annual glass,
activity isn’t your portrait.
Brushed with algae or
brushed with light. Delay of
the merely routine in your
stroke. Syntax can’t produce
a birth on its own, but death
is another sentence.

Paradise

Down the left column,
disappointments; down
the right column,
disenchantments. A
tendentious mix. His father
had argued with a neighbor
over fences and property
lines, and the neighbor
returned, forced open the
door, and shot him in the
foyer while the young boy
watched, this was Fairbanks,
1959, and the father picked
himself up, bullet in his
intestinal tract, and drove
himself to surgery, leaving my
father alone in the lately
invaded home. Think of the
word lurch, which is what
a bus does. Think of the way
eyes shine in darkness. The
most I’ll hope for is sadness;
the least, silence. Of any two
coincidences, desire for
narrative makes coherence.
But it’s only one perspective,
and this planet is teeming.

Paradise

When people sit silent, I
imagine them actually silent,
as deep space also isn’t. I
hear the clock click into
place, set its bells, and chime
out its gravity. But the birds
wake no one else up with
their wild dipping song
of the night. He invited me
in, and not knowing how to
refuse, I sat with him in his
living room for awhile, the
windows covered completely
with thick sheets of aluminum
foil. Every room maintains
a different relationship with
acoustics. At the core of the
explosion, the touch point.
There’s no way out of
the body.

Andy Stallings lives in Deerfield, Massachusetts, where he teaches English at Deerfield Academy. He taught for several years at Tulane University prior to that, and has published a book of poems, To the Heart of the World, with Rescue Press (2014). He has three small children and coaches cross-country.

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