Such Excess of Light

by Shannon Johnson

that day she was afraid
of the splintered mountain slipping under Disney tennis shoes
of October cedars sharpened
of the crumbling breadcrust cliff edge
of the postcard panorama that just made the world too big

it’s okay, we overheard him, wanting her not to cry
it’s okay Jodi I’ve loved you my whole life
he was maybe almost seven
I think he was her brother

last night a woman left the grocery store
a woman in an automated wheelchair bumping down
sidewalks waiting at crosswalks a tiny piece
of a woman with shriveled arms and legs, a funny hat –
she took herself to the grocery store there was nobody
to take her to the grocery store

I wish I had loved you
better

wish I had taken your ankles your
heels in my hands kissed them again and again
wish I had woken ten minutes early
brought you coffee one more time

we cannot say these things we are too old too
wary of the laughter of the world, of the way
even an empty room would mock us in
sneers of unblinking fluorescent if ever I dug up
my six year old self to profess
my lifelong devotion

fringe of white feathers on a dove’s tail
enough to catch the slanting sunrise and oh God
how they gleam and oh God shall I walk blind all my days
such excess of light in the wings of the doves of
transfigured geese making shapes in the sky
the world is too beautiful to bear

I wish I had said it
wish I’d found the time, found the words
spun sentences out of all the extra light like Rumpelstiltskin
taken hours down out of all the extra room and the shapes
in the bookshelf sky I am sure there would have been
room for us between bookends of gold between
feathers of white flame I am sure even I
could have found a way