Christien Gholson

How We Passed the Vietnam Veteranís Memorial Entrance in Angel Fire during a Snowstorm

The world, opaque. A sudden
plow truck. Black snow
splatters. Somewhere, a red
plastic flower, flag rope slap-
ping a frozen pole. White wall,
white hill. Where are we? Lone blue
fluorescent bulb, one million
suicides. Snow-light masks
the dark: No shoulder, no
road, canít stop, this is where
Sunday School ends, everything
permitted, snow endless, dis-
appearing past our own private
edge. If I turned the wheel
sharp right, there would be
an open mouth: Winter soldier
whispers his confession. Blood
spreads, sinks, swims mycelia threads,
endlessly sings, red on white. What
was it he wanted? No, please stop, pull
the confession from another man. Use
the hood, electric wire. Black snow
blind, canít stop. Look over the
glistening lip. Wind knocks the car side-
ways; white fingers against a black
wheel. Slide toward a shocked face,
not yours, never yours. Straighten
the wheel, keep moving. Memorial sign
disappears in the rearview

How I Remembered Whatís Been Lost the Morning
After Another Birthday

for Issa

from an open door
across the field.

Fall arrived last night, black edge
of the wind, red seed-heads
bending east.

Her eyes shine
from black between the blades

in pain


landing on gone-to-seed thistle


where she used to be

This morning, a cricket on the carpet, a bee
on the window.

Caught both,
released them outside.

Yellow aspens,
half-strippt by last nightís wind,
shock the sky.

How the World Was Made
(August 6, 2005, 60th anniversary of the dropping of the atom bomb on Hiroshima)

A human form struggles
through a water-slick crevice. Emerging,
she takes a breath, sees
a flash of light.

The stones next to the tower are still sweating.
There are birds that drink nothing but this sweat.
They come at night. In the morning, there are
no tracks.

The woman who paints these birds onto cave walls
cannot find the right surface. She is looking for a curve
of rock that resembles their wings. There is no such place.
She knows this. She continues looking.

Oppenheimer believed he began true darkness.
Truman claimed he ushered in an era of light.
Six times the child called out. The seventh cry
was how this world was made.

The night birds enter my mouth, hunting
for stones. They are so thirsty. They scrape
against the cave wall, unwieldy. Their wings
taste like salt.

Little one without eyes. Little one
without legs. Little one without
a heart. Little one born with no mouth,
sleep safe.

A human form peers into a dark crevice, sniffs
the air, shakes her head no
not yet

not yet


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