Jennifer A. McGowan, a poet, was born and raised in the United States and now lives in Oxfordshire, United Kingdom. Despite being certified as disabled with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome at age 16, she became a semi-professional mime and performed in five countries. More recently she has worked as researcher, editor, and writer for a UK devil’s advocacy firm. She has taught both under- and postgraduates at several universities, in subjects as varied as English, history, and heritage studies. Her poems have appeared in various literary journals on both sides of the Atlantic, including The Connecticut Review, Gargoyle, Ginosko, Theodate, Envoi, Acumen, and Agenda (which also featured her mediaeval calligraphy and illumination); a chapbook, Life in Captivity, is available from Finishing Line Press. Her work has also been anthologized in Birchsong (Blue Line Press, 2012), A Moment of Change (Aqueduct Press, 2012), and Sounds of Surprise (Albion Beatnik, 2012) and songs she has written have been recorded on several labels. Contact the author and purchase her work through her Web site: http://www.jenniferamcgowan.com.
Morning at the Maru-Aten Temple
after a fragment of pavement painting at the Ashmolean Museum
Green surrounds at dawn: animals nestle peaceably.
Chants lilt, their lulls and crescendos
relaying off stone, combining, lapping out.
A trail of suppliants winding through
doors and colonnade.
A priestess holds out her hand.
She knows you. Her smile is strictly non-canonical.
Perfume spills from the terrace.
The wild geese burst into flight.
Crouching on the sidewalk, non-responsive in pain,
my father—on his way
to the op that would free him—
matte grey, slow, silent.
I’ve lived with him through this age,
walked here with him
from the hotel with hospital rates,
but crouched there
he’s a stranger,
beyond touch, beyond words—
and when had we anything but words between us?
When you passed beyond the stars,
you left me, grounded,
grieving, too many hours to fill.
Too much space in the bed.
By day, habit is king.
I pace in well-worn rounds
between four walls
my face unturned to the sky.
By night I walk the desert
which swallows footprints,
praying for a sudden miracle of you
to blossom in the darkness.
White, white light.
Trees caught in immobility.
Rimed grass, small ferns
pattern the alabaster ground.
Breath catches; holds; hangs
marbling the air.
Suddenly a blue train screams.
The world shatters.