—Book of Job 10:10
For I stood in the savage path of beauty,
herds of elk rutting and moaning under a sky
spiked with vultures. For I came adrift there,
outside the wild garden with its fir and bloom,
my body thrown down to earth, a stranger
with his gun pressed to my head, the stench
of him riding a nightmare into me. Afterwards
I wore the seven skins of absence and begged
to die. Instead you let me hover above my life.
Then walked us through the hole of your absolute
fluency in time. In time, my name curled again
beside me. In time, there was even joy, a red fox
napping in sun outside my window, the scent
of water in early spring, my youngest turning
cartwheels across the world’s bright carpet. All this,
I was given without choice, with myself the price
I paid for it, with death stapled into the urge of being,
with a longing for containment, for certainty,
which is another way to say for meaning.
Tonight, in the darkness and light of my porch,
a nightjar calls out from under my cypress.
The path out of my yard glows milk-white in moon.
How hard I have fought against faith. For, if I surrender,
what notice will you take of me again?
Julia B. Levine’s fifth collection, Ordinary Psalms, will be published in February 2021 with LSU press. Her previous poetry collection, Small Disasters Seen in Sunlight, (LSU press 2014) was awarded the 2015 Northern California Book Award in Poetry. Widely published, her work has been anthologized in many collections. She lives and works in Davis, California.