James Cushing

Voluntary Knots: acrylic, cloth, string and wood on canvas,

9 x 12 in. Celeste Goyer

Daylight Saving Time


My students stretch their legs in bed and copy the laughter

that comes flapping up from streetlights.

Their philosophy is green and prefers to be written in bed.

Poignant lilacs stir in warm garden outside their bedroom windows.


But things go wrong, and that hurts me,

and just as no parent can wish a stream back into being,

I cannot extract the photo of that hurt

from the album, shove boots on its feet, or set it moving.


Old, old pants, folded in a drawer in our future, waited for us both

to wear them, one at a time, and to gasp when we remember

the smells of the hall, the never-silent electricity and heating system,

the greenish worry that slipped into our open mouths like water.


Now the wildness that night left behind has gotten dressed up

and I have a thousand chances to follow and be seen with that wildness.

I’ve practiced my juggling since Thanksgiving — you can see how

the air parts around my hands. When I look in a mirror

I see a quarry, and a knife gliding through meat. 


For a long time, the nearby mountains

have been giant sleeping horses, multicolored

and girded by our poor sense of the place and its resident spirit,

which is lean, and strong, and looking down. I have started

knowing what my body wants most to withstand


and the sky begins misbehaving in its family

friendly way, its dusty passion-flower blossoms

jet-lagged but not yet exhausted.