This morning I asked Sarah to draw me. She was
bent over a sheet of ruled paper, with the Rand-McNally atlas
as her foundation. There they were in sulfur light,
the tallest peaks, reduced to a dust jacket
supporting a frail white negative space
from which a rickety horse had begun to emerge
above a stick-like flower. Sarah studied my face,
let her pencil hover, then raised the page
and punched a hole through it. Tonight she’s haloed
in lamplight with picture-books. Her arm is God’s
bent stylus: it draws on the air the one language
I want to read each day. Somewhere inside her, the image
of a horse gallops away. Inside me, love is the hole
no mountain can fill. Look, here’s her pencil: my nail.
The sparrow’s flight is two unequal parts:
a beating up, a sinking. Many wingstrokes,
a bellying glide. There is an art
to lifelong depression: the going for broke
and the break. The slump, the liquid slide
from a straightback chair. On the cool of the floor
lay an ear to the crack between worlds
that whispers Get up you baby then Weep no more.
You can spread your arms then, featherless wings
of a creature made to fly underwater,
a thing that, once it surfaces, can breathe
and breathe, can see the small people on the shore
with their books and children, the fragmented songs
of pleasure you fly underneath.
Robert Hill Long is author of The Power to Die and The Work of the Bow (Cleveland State, 1987, 1997), The Effigies (Plinth Books, 1998), and The Kilim Dreaming (Bear Star Press, 2010). He is now a faculty research administrator at the University of Oregon.