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Jennifer Wallace-I

 from One Hundred Footsteps





Now I wonder: gods dwell

in the mountains. Travelers walk the paths.

One exhales into the other.


Ah! In the rain, I am not ready yet.

I leave today. Good luck.



The old ones trusted more

than logic when they built Nikko’s wood pagoda,

tall as the oldest cedar,

with only a single anchor pole to hold.

If only I could swing my thoughts with such grace.





It sure is hard work: governing

my Western mind. Faith/Reason. Reason/

Faith. Borges said, “The writer

must not destroy by human reasonings

the faith that art requires of us.”





I am out here with my

pickaxe, my oxcart and its square wheels.

And only here will I

admit: my shoulders swell like fat buckets

and I have twisted my wrists into knots.





A body moves in water

like water moves, while a thought—in air—

marks the surface like a light breeze.

Or it can capsize the sturdiest craft,

the kind made of muscle and bone.





I walk into each day—

a normal way of moving. We all move,

slow down, move again. It’s

a parade! But nothing fills me like

the moment of a thumb and finger. Fruit. Skin.





Today we hear a lot

about connectedness. It’s not

a handshake: together,

then apart. It’s more like one skin woven by

what we don’t see of the shared sun.





The God of Lost Causes

might laugh at the effort and, too,

the effect of these letters

falling from my hand. Funny: how their curves

and squiggles look like lips and wrinkles as they land.





We are likely to be surprised

by those who dwell in the other world,

pushing on the paper screen,

a tender membrane. We miss the impression

of their voices and their hands.





An attitude of nonchalance

might fill the purse with usual distance

but the weight of all those

coins results in empty handedness

right when a bridge needed most in fog dispels.





An aging woman held

all the old songs; everyone’s ancestors

tucked between her breastbone

and her thinning heart. When the wave

almost took her, he carried those songs on his back.