James AL Midgley
has recently had poetry accepted in The Rialto
, Smiths Knoll
. He is usually busy editing the poetry journal Mimesis
or getting to know a bottle of Glenfiddich.
—Back to Milestones Contents—
A sigh of wind raking the furnace
to a fistful of ashes: this is what
you will become, Shaman says.
But I have heard the chants
of women as they clap,
bringing thunder to the flash of fire.
And I have read the sacred texts,
rolled them out like snake-skins.
They did not speak of ashes.
The old man turns away,
rubs a welt.
Sleep. We begin at dawn.
I watch Father Sun rise like a lion cub,
fur pale and thin but as he grows
it billows and burns. Shadows come for me:
friends and family
ghosting the mud in this early light.
Hands smother me with dirt,
make my head a nest of feathers.
I wrap my face in netting, take on
the vision of a boar, peering
from the thicket. By this
your quarry is known, mutters Shaman.
He throws me a gun.
Isuppose this poem is a kind of milestone for me because it was one of the first I wrote that wasn’t completely rubbish (bold words). I’ve returned to it a few times to retouch here and there, but generally what you see is what was written first time around—one of those rare poems (rare for me) that seemed to work fairly well from its first incarnation.
I’d wanted to write a poem about growing up for some time, without resorting to the usual tropes and what-have-you’s of that kind of writing. In the end I married it to the idea of culture “growing up,” which of course has very different connotations altogether.