How It Would Be Different If We Had His Body

Reading that the ancients knew the mountains
as scars of the earth,
we would not slowly nod.
This we would not imagine:
the mountain as magician,
my uncle and the others tucked
inside its snowy sleeve,
like a row of stoic doves, waiting
for an incantation no one knows.
We could believe
again in the impermanence
of winter.
Some of them, we were told,
must have settled their bodies
into snow caves
like clappers into bells they meant to ring
once the storm had cleared.
If we had his body, the chimes in
our minds would stop
their windy chaos.
We would not see one-way ladders
in our shadows,
leading down.
If we had his body,
what would be different
is nothing, our nothing.
Wakened by the wind,
we would not have
already been awake.
We could forget, for a moment,
that even the center of the eye—
the part that lets light in—
is a hole.

Jessica Goodfellow is author of Mendeleev’s Mandala (Mayapple Press, forthcoming 2015), The Insomniac’s Weather Report (Isobar Press, 2014) and chapbook A Pilgrim’s Guide to Chaos in the Heartland (Concrete Wolf, 2006). Her poems have appeared in Best New Poets, Verse Daily, and The Writer’s Almanac. She is a past recipient of the Chad Walsh Prize from Beloit Poetry Journal. Possessor of a graduate degree from Caltech, she lives and works in Japan.