- Cheyenne, and: Yom Kippur
I need to clear the bracken and weedsthat stick to my swimming thighs.I went down and down, I swambeside the boat, near its sucking wakeand tall dangerous sides. I pulledthrough water hung with mud and slickshale-stumbled banks running up to treesand scattered logs bleached white by the sun.The way I loved seemed to be confoundingeveryone. I was not alone, I had a friendI did not need language withas we paddled side by side.I was not shopping, scanningthe horizon for what would be a betterlife. I was beside that ship of peoplebeing ferried safe within their deaths.We would all arrive at the same timebut me by my own rhyming muscles.I swam until the water grew warmas a body around my body, until I wasin a liquid I had been before, openedmy eyes against the currentand the stripping weeds, pulledmyself ever further into the foldsof the past, back to the riversplitwhere it all began and scrambled outat last onto land tingling with brambleand branch. And you were there,and we were strong-limbedand browning and back. [End Page 160]
Blood in a jar pulsinginto feather into water and thisis the New Year.
We've made our ablutions.We've burned with feverand chanted and wonderedourselves back toward One.
And now the fruit splits the treeand leaves tongue to goldand I dream I'm a dust mote.
Everything is perfect in its easy sweep.
I have no idea in the dream of beingdust but know I'm insidesome central endless harmony.
Then in anotherpart of the dream I'm in your new house,large and anonymous and clean.
You've moved again so swiftly!All the bowls wiped to a sheen on the shelves.And you are opening to show me
drawers of forks and knives,quality flatware stacked high,each piece having clicked into place. [End Page 161]
What do I say?
The whole time I am wonderingwhat the utensils, empty chairs, and plush carpetsreally mean, if they are all diverent
shapes for the same thing,and what it is they and youare trying to say. [End Page 162]
Rachel Jamison Webster is artist-in-residence in poetry at Northwestern University and director and editor of UniVerse, an online anthology of international poetry. For several years, she worked with Chicago's first lady, Maggie Daley, and Gallery 37 to design and teach writing workshops for city teens; in this capacity, she edited two anthologies of writing by young Chicagoans, Alchemy and Paper Atrium. Her poems have been published in many journals and anthologies, including Poetry, Paris Review, Southern Review, Madison Review, and others. Her book, September, is forthcoming.