BEYOND ALL THAT by Christine Hemp

I squeeze myself into Time. It’s tight
like a little coat or a skin I’m much too big for.
I do it, though, for Spaciousness – for the Light

I bring with me. Her eyes at first blink with tears,
her pupils wide, and in them I can see the door
of history: the tree she springs from—the sheer

audacity of that branch growing beyond her womb
into memory, blood, and bone. Before
I raise my hand I cannot help but see a tomb

as well; it’s why I’m here: That gyre
of Time. Prepositions cannot explain or
place the where or when of that Fire

who sent me. It’s all a gift, and what I bring
has no relation to being good, that poor
imitation of love. Horns, halos, or even wings

are not my story, though there are those who
try to make it so: Me on the immaculate floor
holding a white lily I am said to carry through

the corridors of temples, famous paintings.
But she sees beyond all that. At her core
she’s at home within her flesh, sustaining

calm when the spark ignites. She holds her belly,
opens her mouth. I tell her something more
about the seed, the fruit. All she does is stare at me.

In our brief exchange, I taste her fear,
but she does not flinch. “Yes,” she says. (Lord,
how much joy and sorrow can a human bear?)
Christine Hemp has aired her poetry and essays on NPR’s Morning Edition; a poem of hers traveled over 1.7 billion miles on a NASA mission that monitored the birth of stars, and her poetry program Connecting Chord has united youth offenders and police officers in the U.K. and U.S. She is the author of That Fall (poetry) and a recently completed memoir called SAFE. She lives in Port Townsend, Washington.