This is what light-hearted
means. On your long migration
back from the moon,
you test your drooping wings
in the blue, heavy earth air,
gracefully find your firmness,
and lift up in the full face
of the sun, letting your long legs
dangle. You are near water,
gliding. When the shotgun
blast hits you, the white feathers
blow away like fog,
and the hard, clenched light
of your core shatters
like fine crystal smashed
on a hard marble floor.
The shards all disappear
like water evaporating on a hot day.
Besides the light, you
have no hard feelings.
Periodically, the Earth flattens
at certain places along the horizon.
Further out, hairline fractures develop.
Then chunks loosen. A trickle
of sea leaks through a break, and soon water
is pouring over the edge of the world.
Fish leap and writhe in the white cataracts.
Debris of every kind, islands, pieces
of continents, even birds are consumed.
People, too, sometimes witness
this, although by then they are
too close. Stunned, as reality
breaks off from underneath them,
they are inexorably drawn
to that shapeless, infinite mouth,
with streaks of blue sky pouring in,
and bits of starlight falling.
John Philip Johnson has poetry in or forthcoming from Rattle, Southern Poetry Review, Mythic Delirium,Strange Horizons, and Ted Kooser's newspaper column, "American Life in Poetry," among other places. He reviews for Star*Line and elsewhere, and was a finalist in the 2013 Rhysling competition. His website is www.johnphilipjohnson.com.