May 12, 2020
Every Meeting is a Hallucination Waiting to Happen
Then I was back in it.
The War was on. Outside

—Elizabeth Bishop


and tomorrow when I wake up will be tomorrow
and I will know because I will remember
eating river ruby grapefruit for breakfast and ignoring
the raisin bran, giving thanks for the bodily openings
that I know are not optional, calling my sister
at the EPA office with the struggling fichus or from
the office with institutional art that warrants a slow zoom
to frame the drop of sunlight on the mermaid carved
into the prow of the clipper ship to talk about paintings
that are not paintings or the discovery of a tumor
or a new black hole or a universe without dark matter,
calling my brother to check in about his test results
and to ask how my nephew with a learning disorder
is getting on in school, sleepily driving past the conoco
that hours before was an exxon and lingering over
the business model, breaking warm bread over
french press coffee in a studio apartment in the shadows
of bitterroot mountains, glaring pines shrink-wrapped
in snow or saguaro cacti with a panoply of white eyes,
or aspens blinking like silver coins cast into sky,
delivering a baby roadside into a world that did
and did not exist moments ago. It happens. Maybe
I imagine myself a doula or an EMT on the way home
from the bar after a long night and a longer shift
or a cattle rancher with a bit of practice  in delivering
calves who glimpsed the car run out of gas on the shoulder.
At which point, I have to wonder. A great many things.
Like when does it all stop. Is it a decision in us.
Or like how do I become vested or move on past
my injuries. Or like ‘who is the you before whom I
am I.’ The truth is that to get through most moments
I imagine myself on the other side of the earth. One
half of me cloud. The other a subset of nomadic facts.
One half waiting for the other half to catch up. And
I am constantly casting the one part forward
like a sidewinder, hopefully with enough force so
that the rest of me is lifted along or at least dragged
down the way as tin cans tied to the bumper of a cadillac
or like a cartoon character who has somehow managed
to tie his own ankle to an acme anvil. Maybe I am
the weight on the world of others. Maybe the cloud
of dust kicked up by the sudden exit or awaited entrance.
Maybe I am the fading line on the highway or the machine
marking the line or the orange and white traffic cones
or the clown fish in the pediatric aquarium whose job
is to occupy the sick and the contained. And here it ends,
as abruptly, arbitrarily or involuntarily, as it always does
where it always ends—‘in the middle of the road
is a stone.’ Minha amiga, ‘there is a stone in the middle
of the road.’ And now a pebble in my shoe as a terrible
reminder. Pick. Pick it out. I put it in my mouth, just under
the tongue. Run now. Try to follow yourself. ‘Falling. Falling.’
Try. I’ll try to expel myself or explain my inability to assimilate
or make choices in hopes of avoiding closure. Keep. I’ll keep
my vessel close. Thoughts closer. ‘And now we see through
a glass, darkly; but soon face to face’ as in the skit where you
play someone else looking through an empty frame at yourself
and later you watch as you make a public appearance on
the daytime television. And what is it that time makes
possible—the you that was then and the you that is now
and the you that may or may not exist sit in a waiting room
of needful silence. And what else goes unrecognized beside
the interrupting call from behind the door. The gorilla who
strolls into the middle of the basketball court, faces
the camera and thumps his chest and then departs. What else.
When the cries become crying. The war is in here too.
About the Author

Daniel Biegelson is the author of the chapbook Only the Borrowed Light (VERSE) and Director of the Visiting Writers Series at Northwest Missouri State University as well as an editor for The Laurel Review. His poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Denver Quarterly, DIAGRAM, FIELD, Grist, Interim, minnesota review, Salt Hill Journal, and Third Coast, among other places.


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