Christine Boyka Kluge: Gallery for Teaching Bones to Fly
Devolution | Lavender Cathedral | White Dot
One January afternoon
the chimney will inhale its sweet smoke.
Embers will join again as logs,
and logs will lift their leafy arms
in a forest of quivering emerald.
Like circus dogs,
the days will leap tail-first
back through their brass hoops,
until you are pinched with shrinking,
and for a moment hold an empty cup
to your milky, toothless grin.
Lightning bolts of pain crack
as you fall back into a multitude of bodies.
Your face shuffles portraits from a wall,
and you wear the blurred masks
of ancestors never seen,
eyes of luminous blue and brown and green.
Male and female wrench apart, retract.
Each one of you gallops backward
down a separate strobe-lit corridor.
You wave to your selves
so long, farewell. . .
. . .and your furred hands surprise you
before folding into millions of silver fins
pushing your scaled bellies back
across the coarse sand, into the thick sea.
You willingly fill your knotted lungs
with salty water,
then split your selves into single cells,
sparkling like mica flakes,
like brief stars among the dark waves,
waiting for someone
the connect their bright dots.
The iris builds its lavender cathedral,
curving three vaulted petals
over a trinity of fringed ones
that leap skyward
through translucent arches.
Three lowest petals
lower long, furred tongues;
carpets of yellow hairs unroll
down the center of each one.
Slowly, flowers fold and curl and darken,
exuding a grapey sweetness as they shrink.
When I touch them,
they are cool and cling to my fingertip
like wrinkled balloons.
One iris forms a withered fist,
soft knuckles sticky with dying,
while the next one up the emerald stem
unfurls a new sanctuary
of captive purple radiance
our eyes enter anew,
Ghosts of snow plummet from branches,
swirling away into pointillist glitter.
Wind chimes jangle,
then hang in silence.
This is the moment the world stills.
On the deck,
the crow pins a crust with its claw,
sparkling beak poised,
head tilted to listen.
His feathers lift in black metallic blades
against January's blue-white backdrop.
I realize I'm holding my breath,
When he looks up,
the entire sky is a white dot
frozen in his black eye.
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"Devolution", "Lavender Cathedral", and "White Dot" appear in Teaching Bones to Fly (New York:
The Bitter Oleander Press, 2003). Copyright © 2003 by Christine Boyka Kluge. Reprinted with
permission from The Bitter Oleander Press.