Allyson Page Dale
I walk into the gift shop swinging arms blithely, and when they make no incidental contact, I knock a snow globe off a display counter. It hits a rug and lands with a thud, unbroken, but I pretend it did and buy it anyway. At home, I put it away with things that need fixing. Some days I take it out, shake it, watch something resembling snow fall over the farmhouse. A dog caught in suspended animation chases a horse-drawn sleigh. I roll my hands over the surface and pet the crystal as if it will grow. Some days I wake so happy my face could be slapped on a cereal box or appear as a shining row of teeth on the American Post— happy to work for the bread and barley, yearning to shake Ronald Reagan’s hand and pay my taxes early. But today, I let the coffee cool beside me as I imagine things are rough at the factory. They have run out of dogs, horses, and sleighs. Still, the globes must get made. Back at headquarters, things are tense in the boardroom. Everyone’s afraid they are one badly curated idea for curios away from not getting paid. Silence until someone says: I’ve got it! A woman holds a snow globe aloft like an offering! At the end of the table, the boss is quiet, but he loosens his grip on the pink slips. His teenage daughters will love it. It’s so meta. It’ll appeal to the new generation’s 21st-century sensibilities. The millennial market virtually untapped, everyone dons their black hats, pleased with newfound job security. As they go home relieved, water rushes up my ankles to my waist. It fills my mouth. The world tilts on the axis of an unknown hand. I cannot move. All the while something like snow falls around me.
Calling all heretic dogs, all youths
turning the nights sending virtual
text hexes. To all who fill their houses
with bones. Do you wake and pledge
allegiance to your shadow?
Did you get less than you paid for
at Discount Myths? Have you sacrificed
days at the wrong altars?
It’s cold outside. It is time
to let the concatenation in. For in
the dark moves the prime rustler,
and I fear it is out for meat.
If you find yourself confusing
rivers with windows, if more and more
your mind becomes an empty room,
if you tire of a kaleidoscopic prison
of game shows, if you see origins
in a pair of cast dice, then tune in
on your transcendental
rodeo and await instructions.
I know this morning you felt
as though the sun knew your name—
that you could look into the eyes
of Medusa and remain unchanged.
But since then,
you’ve learned all orisons
addressed to the high priestess
have gone undelivered—
your hypnogogics have come up 404s.
Do not dismay. For I have BREAKING NEWS
ABOUT THE STRUCTURE OF REALITY.
Listen as the Earth’s axle grinds
to a halt before reversing direction.
The world now turned on its side:
southern lights, western sunrise.
Will they guide us to our buried birthright?
Follow the tracks of the infinite railroad,
and when you notice at no point the rails cross,
slake yourself with the dirt of your digging
until the tip of your shovel hits
a lid you lift to see: sinners
are more or less as content as the saints,
that we all take to our beds
with approximately the same number
of sadnesses. Reach in and feel
how the universe was dismembered,
rended star from field, how we were
scattered and forgot the names
of things and so must once again set
to the work of wording ourselves.
It is as if all my life
I’ve been bent over
searching for a rock
with my name on it.
I stand stiff-backed
and look to the hills
with no agenda.
In one low field,
a horse gives birth
to a sword.
as it falls
soundless to the dirt:
an unuttered prayer,
a call to arms.
Allyson Page Dale is a writer in the Midwest. Her work has appeared in Dust Poetry Magazine, Elder Mountain Review, and Pembroke Magazine. You can find her on Twitter @dale_haha.