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  • Interiority, and: Longing Is Not Desire, and: I've Turned from the Distant, and: In the Year of Gorillas, and: Balloon, and: To Whoever May Care for Me Dying
  • Jonathan Johnson (bio)
  • Interiority
  • Jonathan Johnson

A man allows himself to sinkto his desk before a windowonto the winter sea, to shut his eyesand feel his sweater sleevebeneath his cheek, the wood smoothunder his hand, each breath's arrival slowas the waves he knows are out the window.He knows snowflakes are liftingon the updraft just beyond the glass.He's given up trying to imagineor remember anything else.The great story in which he lives now,the death and tender face and home,will return for him. He can hear it. [End Page 162]

  • Longing Is Not Desire
  • Jonathan Johnson

Longing was never meant to be satisfied.Alone with the ruins on the grassy promontory,low sun of early January on the sea,I long to be alone with the ruins,low sun of early January on the sea.When at last I look back, I long to look back,ruins in silhouette over silhouette of rocks,some of what's left of the day showingthrough former windows. What desire makescrumbles with the weight of its own creation.But longing, longing wants most when it has. So forgive me,when our blankets are spread before the cottage fireand it's been night after night since I've touched your skin,if my fingertip lingers along one last seam. [End Page 163]

  • I've Turned from the Distant
  • Jonathan Johnson

I've turned from the distant towers of coast to    where the path turns inlandand follows the track between fence and barley field past    a six-bottom plow left behindto take the sun and the wind off the sea and rust    another season. Twenty yearsI have lived apart from the first girl I loved    and that is how I will go on.So why am I now remembering how she could be still    in the close, antique lightthrough the window on a gray afternoon?    The violin gave its slow answerto the lute. Quiet. Soft and Quiet.    The path entered a wood alongsidea stone byre and deepened to the shaded,    quick water I'd seen on a mapthough somehow hadn't expected, at least not the canopy    of basswood or beech or the languageof the current breaking little falls over boulders to a ruined mill    where trees grew to join the woodthrough the absent roof. Only stone on stone    delineated someone's intentions and days.The sea was somewhere downstream, toward which    the path returned. To the leaves it could have beena hundred miles off, they were so calm.    And when those leaves were behind meI thought of them, even where the water pooled wide    at the mouth between banks of alderand driftwood, sun-bleached on the rocks.    I thought of those leaves until I sawthrough low limbs two swans turning slowly    on that satin water just before the processionof waves took the river into itself. [End Page 164]

  • In the Year of Gorillas
  • Jonathan Johnson

The first I knew of Anya's fearwas holding her before Blue Gorilla,some undergrad's paintingin a gallery on Washington Street.I've forgotten what she saidbut recall her arms tighteningaround my neck and shoulder, her legsgripping my torso. She musthave been three. There were nightmaresand the book she insisted onsleeping with every night, tiptoeinggorilla holding a flashlighton the cover. I knowshe was three because later that yearmy mother would be donewith everything she'd done for yearsnot to die and three was the lastmy mother saw of Anya, pirouettingon the great stage of bedroomrevealed when my mother raisedher heavy eyelids. Was iteven a minute, that final recital,one life's last vision of a body turning?Wonderful my mother said before lettingher lids sink. Anya must havebeen three because the two photosof her turning-sneaker toe to...


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