Linda Sillitoe is the author of nine books including a collection of poetry (Crazy for Living), journalism, fiction, and history, as well as a new mystery. She is currently public outreach coordinator for the Stewart Library at Weber State University, Utah. See other work by Linda Sillitoe in Weber Studies: Vol. 9.2 and Vol. 13.1.
Half the scenes I draw on now
happened in odd, haloed moments
preserved in their own deep frames
irrespective of year or subject.
Ella singing scat in a college gym.
A bereaved ice skater spinning
like a phoenix, hurling defiant sparks
my weakened daughter swallows.
My boy pitching endless strikes
to thank the sky after an auto crash,
and a daughter, small and blond with a bullhorn,
shouts down neo-Nazis on public ground.
A hand leaves the gearshift to enclose mine
while outrunning a mountain blizzard.
And you, sunlit at a canyon restaurant,
open book after book I'm going to need.
The Man Who Lives with Nightmares
The nightmares make appointments and come in
clad in human skin and modern clothes:
children hatched by hospitals in casts, steel plates,
and stitches; veterans shocked awake by fusillades;
every kind of rape at any age, now assuming flesh.
He sits the nightmares down. They draw or talk.
His slides that slice the brain with light to show
how trauma splits and lodges, mean less to them than how
he holds their eyes with eyes his father brought
from Hitler's camps; if talking chokes, he breathes
his mother's silence. "Terrible things happened
to you," he says. At once the smells flare in his office;
cars boom and break; freeways fall; and terrorists' eyes
gleam like automatic weapons. The thrust a child escaped
(by disappearing) skewers the woman before him. One by one,
the nightmares teach the scientist how they hurt.
He teaches how to heal, enraging certain nightmares
who wear human skin and desire to thrive. They memorize
his voice and prints, then track him everywhere. He skis
powder when he can; seeks redrock; then goes back to work.
Carlos Nakai at Litchfield Park
One man and a flute begin.
Trees lean through their light to listen.
Under the bandstand, below the folding chairs,
the land awakes, rippling toward the blue Estrellas.
The land recalls how notes unwind and yearn,
courting the sun. One man in quills
and buckskin. One flute in the morning.
Now a slant of eagle bone slides
between his lips, and this bone shrills
an eagle's heart, an eagle's eye,
thin air, a wind that curls and spirals,
the lift of flight like sinew in the wings.
The sky leans in as this white bone
sings its every cell, an arrow's cry.