David Harris-Gershon's work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in
Colorado Review, Pebble Lake Review, Stickman Review and elsewhere.
Currently a teacher of Biblical texts, film and literature at a Jewish high
school near Washington, DC, he will soon be moving with his wife and two
daughters to coastal North Carolina to pursue an MFA at UNC Wilmington.
David hopes to tap into a southern surfing culture rumored to exist in
Wilmington, work at the organic co-op and take up cycling as a family hobby.
The New Hampshire State Flower
is a clerk seated alone
before the speaker's vaulted chair,
rocking from the stem of her skirt
a crossed leg reaching, reaching,
steadily keeping time as she invites me
in, whispers ignore the sash and sign;
and so I sit, today's Sergeant at Arms
poised with a pen as she sways
beneath the scales of justice, chin cupped
by painted sepals, lips lifting to say,
our state flower is the purple lilac,
a flower loved by Shakespeare,
stowed by patriots and planted here,
this blossom, stroking petals of hair
in bloom this afternoon,
bending in the breeze.
Snowy owls are virtually silent in flight. I stroke your silence with straining eyes
as you wind through the maze barefoot, grimacing.
Once [that cathedral],
a fourth grade teacher [temporality],
I invited a nature guru to share his wares [the convocation].
Well into the show-and-tell session, he picked a volunteer, adorned her
with shields of leather, took out a snowy, and said close your eyes.
Asked us to believe. Demanded faith.
Heads bowed in supplication, the released owl flew from an outstretched hand
to this girl, shaking, arm extended. A broken crucifix. Waiting. Wings silent,
the only noise- oompfff-landing. But gliding past, it whispered lost in my ear.
Moments ago, a curious sign surfaced outside The Church of the Epiphany:
Labyrinth Open Today for Walking Meditation & Prayer Inside
Lost without punctuation, I entered the cavernous chapel, the void, mystified,
no complicated puzzle through which to weave my body, only pews dotted with
homeless drifters kissing paper bags and
prayerful souls swaying to silent incantations.
Slowly sliding forward, the epiphany comes: the labyrinth
is a blue and white tapestry resting on the floor, reminiscent of handheld puzzles
found in gumball machines in which one must wind tiny metal bearings
through a circular maze toward the center. The hole. The Depths.
Now, having reached the front row, I sit, speechless, a magus witnessing
this manifestation of the divine, this shoeless woman weaving, face a picture
of orgasmic pain, playing spiritual Twister, right foot, left. I am transfixed,
want to see her complete this, can't remove eyes from her form,
legs bending carnally past arched paths, open to the knowledge of movement,
sensing something silent, unseen.
Searching for a sign of the world I once knew, I know one thing:
Upon reaching her truth, I will rise from the pew and whisper, Lost is not for me.
Only then will I leave, silently.
Parenthood is a father fumbling for keys, telling the same story,
the same story, the same story - locked out. Activities reduce agitation.
Parenthood is a mother mumbling about motor skills, football scores,
gin / sin / Rin Tin Tin - locked in. Concentrate on process, not results.
Parenthood is a brother choking on cheese, grabbing the larynx,
squeezing. Face fist thumb-in, pull up.
Childhood is a boy on shoulders shaped to bear
the somersault, the swing forward and down -
savored release - toddler now stumbling
into a street pointing, naming with syllables
his next retreat,
a father mourning.
He won't come back when you call.
It thumbs your spine,
licks at your ribs,
grabs the balls
I wasn't created from this.
The truth is
there never was
only the forked tongue
chew your way through.
*The first two lines in italics are words of advice adapted from the Alzheimer's Association website.
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