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Line: So We Go Away Sarah Vap Of the seven directions, a line could move us all seven. Of all the directions, there is a single line down the memory that could return us. Return us to the line of Tibetan prayer flags, strung from our kitchen window to the giant cedar that was struck with lightning. This half-burnt hollow black skeleton holds our son’s sandbox inside of it. Return us to the pale lines around my fingers when the rings are off; warm white worms. The line moves us vertically, down the page. Line moves us horizontally, across the page. The lifeline, from birth to death. Lines from before and after that. The lines of the face, of the palm, of the memory down a life. The line moves us, as landscape and water move us. The line moves us, as any line will move us, or stop our movement. I was born on the Great Plain —a horizontal stretch that is the basis of my imagination. We moved into a small valley in the middle of the Rocky Mountains of Montana when I was very young. A verticality that has held my heart. A verticality that has formed who I am. Maybe one is open arms. One feels like open heart. 244 | Vap Line has the ability to open and close. To usher or prohibit. To slow or hurry a reader the cardinal directions of the page. Then stand the cardinal directions on end: the crucifix. Extending its vertical line into the earth, and into the heavens. The arms of the crucifix, extended, wrap around the globe. Then look at the heart of all directions, the intersection: that is center. The line could move us here, too. A line could move the reader all the other directions, as well: backward, forward , earlier, later, spin you around, up in the air, back behind down into the ground at a spiral. In poetry, as in life, each line will create a physical and an emotional resonance. Each line will have its physical and its ethereal truth. I think of our grandparent poets. Whitman, the horizontal line I inherited, opened his arms wide to hold the whole body of world. Dickinson, her vertical axis that is the basis of my own, opened to the heavens above and the heavens below. Ithinkofthelineasdirection.Asmovementwithinalandscape,tinyorhuge.Physical or ethereal. As the speed of the movement. As the end of that moving. There is a vertical line that is a mountain covered in snow outside our kitchen window. There is another line that is snow melting down the mountain in spring, drowning baby animals and trees on its way. There is a line of corn, forever out from my grandfather’s forehead. There is a line that is heat and light and blue in the desert. Heat light blue. There are lines that stop short as water stops at a dam. Lines that drop as the albatross drops to the ground, starved to death by her stomach full of sunglasses and cigarette lighters. Vap | 245 There are lines that linger, that cram. The line is an experience of movement, and the experience of not moving. Stuck. Stopped. Ended. Moonscape-grid. I lived in Phoenix, in the Sonoran Desert, for seven years. There, the lines dropped underground, like the water, to cool. The lines shimmered like heat in front of light. In the desert, line formed double rainbows during the monsoons, dry lightning in summer, and the grid of the pink canyon walls. Pink orange gold. Now I live in the middle of a rainforest surrounded by seawater. Here, the line is a spiral. Line is a curl of moss, of stream, of algae. There is no horizon here—all grows up or seeps down. The only horizontal movement is the river, turning through my valley. Here in the rainforest, lines are the stretch, up and out, of the cedars covered with moss. Lines are the spirals down of the rain, months on end. Green. Gray. Brown. In the thick of these spirals, in the thick of this mud, I write from memory in lines that are my enormous childhood mountains, covered in snow all year long. Lines of herds pausing and moving, brown like the grasses in autumn. Lines of tiny animals burrowing deep into clay, to the cooler body of the desert. Lines of heat settling down, heavy and bright to the grid of the city. Where I live now, each autumn...


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