There is only one position for an artist anywhere;
and that is upright.—Dylan Thomas
Feet full of burning knives, feeling
like that mermaid who stumbled
when she wished for legs, I sigh
as my doctor explains: Pain is the price
of rising from the horizontal. The older
our spinal S, the more gravity can crush
its buoyant arabesque. If wisdom
floats in the dust of bone collapse,
I’ll settle for a strong back.
I can’t stop thinking of hiking
through pines—shoulder girdle swinging,
planet-round head weightlessly
turning on a swiveling column,
pendulum motion of legs and hips,
feet a pair of pilgrims stepping
lightly over roots and rocks—
I only want to live like that again,
then die standing up.
Catherine Gonick’s poetry has appeared in literary magazines, including Notre Dame Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, New Verse News, and Silver Birch Press, and in anthologies including in plein air, Grabbed, and Dead of Winter. She works in a company that seeks to slow the rate of global warming, through projects that repair and restore the climate.
© 2021, Catherine Gonick