Light Sleeper

Fish out of context, delivered to shore
nearly drowned, you discover a story
of how we come into being: dissolution
and hardship, always; harsh light and
the husk of a golden age.

Accustomed to a tidal bed, you couldn’t sleep
without motion. So we carried you
between our hearts and the rough air, under
the wheel of sun, past spear-handle ash trees,
orderly as corn, to the western edge
of the known world, resting in sidewalk
shadows, islands of the blessed.

When children are born gray-haired, the iron race
ends. But you are a child of stone: woman and man
toss their mothers’ bones over their shoulders:
they roll like clews and grow,
gifted and flawed as heroes.

In a different age we lived as children
a hundred years. But you followed the coil
of your placenta here, where sunlight
furrows your brow, and the air you breathe
burns your blue skin the color of clay.

John Johnson is a physical therapist assistant who leads balance and mobility classes for older adults. His poem “The Balance” was a finalist in The Comstock Review’s 2006 Awards Issue. He lives in Petaluma, California, with his wife and two children. (jonjonson@comcast.net)

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761