Kate Campbell: From Distant Shores

you dream in the language of Hegel and prattle about
absolute idealism, the relationship of mind and nature,
contradictions in chaos, afterlife, free will, all constructs,
you say.

i tell you about Saturday, blooming daffodils, my
mother coming to me after she died, how i awoke with
the smell of her hair in my nose, the feel of her fleshy arms
in my grip, real, sunlight filtering through black walnut leaves,
splashing the driveway, my brother watching, smiling
 as we embraced.

supposed phenomenon, you say, bogus as the hundredth
monkey, pop theory postulates behavior spread on air
from one to another gathering until mass is attained—harmonic
monkeys on one isolated island washing sweet potatoes
then the action occurs among distant monkeys on their islands,
you say it’s hooey, like my mother’s visitation, you smirk, say,
figment, chimera.

clattering at the kitchen sink last Saturday doing dishes, I explained
while garden blue jays hopped from branch to branch, quarreled
in the pomegranate tree as I scraped egg off a plate with an orange
scrubby, I tell you Sly Ramon cut through the fence, the wall, the tile
and came to stand beside me at the sink, gently cupped my elbow,
fluffed hair from the back of my neck, caressed my face with his palm.
he’d been walking along the river, he said, when he felt

“tell me what trouble the Lord has visited on you,” Sly murmured
and settled into a chair, hushing my kitchen. i opened my mouth,
the fichus bent its branches, bristled its leaves to hear. i lowered
my voice, explained. although, in truth, i'd never met him before,
had no idea how he’d conjured himself in our kitchen, I said.
But, it felt so good to talk with him that I didn't pause to ask
Let go.

Sly Ramon got up when I finished, kissed me sweetly on the cheek,
cut through the glass in the patio door and walked out through the yard
and the fences and the universe. A vision, you chide, a manifestation
of a troubled mind. No empirical miracle, you slur and sup your tea.
Spooky, I say, feeling like a jay pecking dried pomegranate arils, feasting
on reddened eyes before quarreling

you shake your head, clamp your jaw. i say he’s dying, softly, to no one.
i learned it yesterday, i say, and he stops chewing toast, knits his philosopher
brows, wipes his pontificating chin and crummy lap. I can’t explain, breathe.
my brother’s heart is fading, beating softer, quieting, drifting , and you,
I think, and Hegel and Sly Ramon can’t save him or release the butterfly
whose whispering wings stir a tempest on a foreign shore and make my
fichus weep. My mouth fills with soapy water, drowning in this Sunday
sorrow, my lamenting lips pressed against your abstract shield, singing
for you from my distant shore

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