I-70 Review

Writing and Art from the Middle and Beyond

Rebecca Aronson

Rebecca Aronson's books are Ghost Child of the Atalanta Bloom, winner of the 2016 Orison Books poetry prize, and Creature,Creature, winner of the Main-Traveled Roads poetry prize. Her awards include the Prairie Schooner Strouse Award, The Loft Speakeasy poetry prize, and several Pushcart nominations. She teaches writing, coordinates a visiting writers series, and co-curates Bad Mouth, a series of words and music in Albuquerque.

Ghost Child of the Atalanta Bloom

This is what it's like to be the sun, hovering

above a rising and falling sheet

draped on the body on the mattress,

the body which is also my body

when I am not floating in the shadowless upper corner

of the room. To be the sun

is to be a swirling column of dust motes

the light has caught

and to be the light itself.

I was asleep and I was light.


In the morning wash of bright sun

the building's windows flare

and disappear alternately and a bird

wheels toward its own reflection,

wing tips brushing glass, leaving a visible arc,

a contrail on the retina

like a path one could follow to the next world.


In the dream in which there was light

and no light everything shone

as if polished, even the doorway

I knew would close, which was brightest

just before it closed and in those seconds I stole

my body back through in time

to catch my own steadying breath.


Each print pulled loose

from the suck of sand and water

follows the child as he runs

along the seam of shore

which the quick waves stitch and unstitch

to erase the evidence

of his passage.


We sat on the porch in the rain

after the bed ritual—the boy

talking to himself, making noises

as if he were bouncing nebulae off the ceiling

though we didn't usually check.

Gnats drowned in the wine

and we swallowed them. Guitar drifted across the street

and some low singing, bicycle tires and car lights sliding

over it all, the trees and the sound of trees



At the table, hands accordion matches

into tiny sculptures which litter the surface

like fallen sentries, statues

toppled at the entrance to an Etruscan tomb.

Eagle-headed god boys down on their knees.

Where the child's fingers

had been in the wax, a dozen little worlds

smoothed round and lined up

along the table's edge.

An iron-striped sunset in the window.


Imagine that some days even the grass

could be an engine of desire. The tassels which flash

in the wind so the whole field mirrors

the sugar running in your veins.

Your mouth a cloud of grainy words.

Maybe it happened this way.

The lover who used to whistle a song

to the cracked sidewalk—

you'd have known it anywhere.

The sound would cut though a wall of people

to reveal him, before you'd met, grinning in the dark.

He knew you by your ass, you knew him by his song.

The wind in the grass frenzies.

It was a trick of the moon,

this creation story.


Under the clouded sky

the ground glows as if lit from within.

A night like that.

The light like no light I knew.

I Was the Girl Who Set the Field on Fire

Someone had left a can of lighter fluid

beside the trash cans.

There were plastic chairs,

womanly with their smooth white arms,

dry grass harrowing ankles

and small yellow moths drifting

among tasseled heads.

When she spun, the world tilted and blurred

to a golden rush.

Drops flew from the red can,

became the throng of this new hour,

stung and swarmed her limbs

lightly buzzing a song

she knew.

She lit the single match

filched from its watch house

above the mantel—

the rough cap

flaring into sunburst—

the world a slingshot

flinging loose its load

of unfixed colors.

The pitch transformed

into ripples

that spread to flaming trails, concentric

and growing wider around this girl

held in the thrall of her own knack.

Self-Portrait with Uterine Fibroids

I was never winged, never half-

caste of horse and human, barely vengeful,

only I am marked by this distortion.

Honorary gash, it bleeds me

and so depleted,

I deform. I get so empty

I nearly drift

on air. I make a river to hold my place.

I am the river, running copper.

I've gone translucent

as the wing of a nymph,

an apparition.

My skin is paper; I mean

it is barely a cover, like a single onion skin,

the pale blue leaf of an aerogram.

Once on a street corner smiling at a neighbor

I nearly died. All the blood a body holds

can leak out quickly. I'd never been

so lightly tethered.

I wobbled, slanted quickly

toward the ground.

I was a girl engulfed in flame,

but now I'm spectral, misted stone.

I haunt cosmetic counters, pinch

my cheeks, offer wan assurances:

I'm fine I'm fine I'm hardly anywhere near dead.

The Museum of Inattention

Here is a room of forgotten sweaters,

the orange silk scarf left at the Vancouver airport,

single gloves leaping from pockets, some of them

clutching crumpled bills. Here is a ballroom,

its elegant display of expired parking meters

shimmering under a dome of shooting stars.

The door I almost missed was so blue

my feet fell toward it and I was in,

like stepping into a puddle of sky.

I must have slept on the tram to the upper levels.

Here is me, turning away just as the baby

reaches my legs on his first room crossing.

I don't recall what floor this is.

This wing is a maze of classrooms,

each with a foggy window in an unmarked door

blank as a centaur's blind eye.

Here is the roof garden.

There I am shaking sand free from a beach towel—

and there is the birthday watch with its delicate shining strap

flying loose from the frame of my noticing.

Here is the bed I turned from my love in.

A cluster of words, the flock of ears they fled from.

Here are two throbbing packets of lost crushes—

the unrequited ones rudely knocking each other's edges,

the ones I never knew existed floating

like cartoon ghosts through cartoon walls.

The exit is invisible. Walk past it

and you'll find yourself where you usually go

at this same time on a different day.


You moan in your sleep, grinding the night down

to a bare leash that would snap

at the lightest tug. You are dreaming your freedom

in tight circles which widen

a hog's hair at a time, breadth

of breath that shimmies into the broad sky

and is gone. Poof. Who

doesn't long to disappear

like a body into a hole, a magic-show

pigeon, a margarita? Worry wakes you

seven times and seven times you circle,

excavating a bare path in the dense cover

of your bed. There is safety

in the hours of darkness, the air salty

as a long-buried bone. Sleep is thunderheads

just past the mountain. You sense a storm

panting on the horizon, your nose wet

with want; though it is heading your way

there is no knowing

if it will stay on course

or veer like a fox, the path foiled,  far  

from the sure lock of your hunger.


All of the poems appear in Ghost Child of the Atalanta Bloom, Orison Books 2017.

These poems also appear previously in these journals:

I-70 Review:  “The Museum of Inattention,”

MARY: A Journal of New Writing: “Self Portrait with Uterine Fibroids”

The Pa-ris-American: “I Was the Girl Who Set the Field on Fire”