Nina Corwin

If Ever a There There Were

it is a there reached only by jumping
roof to roof
beneath a sky where stars disappear in a halogen glut
(insidious searchlights
invading the dark)
there on the street of poor excuses
for trees, an approximate block from the slipshod mission
(no green light long enough)
in the torn, shattered city
where music wears steel-toed boots
a there that waits for discovery
doesn’t exist until we name it, flagpole stabbed
in a secret gash
the cave unknown until found
underground lake where it sprang into knowing (the spring it began as)
a waterfall slicing through onyx arroyos
a there that doesn’t wait but goes on while we sleep
in poppy fields dappled with circular malfeasance
(two wrongs = two wrongs)
the ineffable there we seek in the musk of another’s unspeakable
(asking ourselves is that it? is it there?)
a there we arrive at when laundry is folded,
with prospects projected on spread sheets
or after the gambit, the sacrificed pawn
the point on the spectrum
where blood once red runs so
bone pale it packs
a skeleton key –
perhaps there
of the X-mark,
the sweet spot,
the cancerous lesion
not a rest stop on the path
of least resistance
nor an on-line oasis of virtual sensation
but a there shot through with lopsided sun in a partial eclipse
where we live at the decibel level of burgeoning screams
occipital recipients of shimmer and quake
if ever
there was
it now is
a rubble strip between two dumpsters
there and the back story to it:
another flat, another’s lights glinting inside
cracked thermostat:
quicksilver scatter to every impending
in forsythia spring, in brick-stodgy houses
in half-empty restaurants, at paltry repasts
in the back of the bus with its leaky latrines
at cobblestone corners and gaslight retreats
in a throwback city, a hunch-backed harbor,
a concourse of hustlers and hymns

Nina Corwin
“If Ever a There There Were” first appeared in 580 Split, Issue 12, 2010.