As If We Had No Other Place to Go than X

Edward Mayes

As if we had no other place to go than X
Or the precursor of X or the dreamy state

Of X, where our bodies have windows
Instead of shadows, where we pass through

The first doorway ever conceived into
A second doorway never closed, and then

A field, one furrowed, a population of
Olive trees, and could that have been Judas

Hanging himself on one, slinging the rope over
The branch that might not easily break, unlike

A silence that can actually be broken, like
The record button on the tape recorder, the sound

Of blue corduroys on the long walk somewhere,
Ingrid Thulin in Bergman’s The Silence, 1963,

1710 words, or the year 1710, Giovanni Battista
Draghi, known as Pergolesi, born in Jesi,

Who wrote his Stabat Mater on a good day,
And then dead at twenty-six, more x-graph than

Y-graph, or as if life could be no longer
Than a paragraph, one hidden inside parentheses,

Convex and concave, and those who have Xs where
Their eyes were, seeing crossing over to believing,

Uncrossing out something crossed out, whether
The sun will shine long enough on the day to see

Something we haven’t seen before, or whether
We will bring our own light with us and leave it on.

X; x’s where their eyes were; xenogenesis, offspring makedly different from parents;
alteration of generations; xenophilia, attracted to the foreign, forest; door, doorway;
forfeit, something surrendered, being out of doors; thyroid; Malcolm X; Xmas; XL;
acocope, loss of a sound at the end of a word; apocrypha, apocalypse; post-op; postern,
small rear gate; haste, post, haste

Edward Mayes has had poems appear in many journals and magazines, including the American Poetry Review, Best American Poetry, the Kenyon Review, the New Yorker, and the Southern Review. His books of poetry include the Juniper Prize-winning First Language (University of Massachusetts Press) and Works and Days (University of Pittsburgh Press), which won the AWP Prize in Poetry. He lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina, and Cortona, Italy, with his wife, the writer Frances Mayes. Their latest collaboration is The Tuscan Sun Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, 2012).

“As If We Had No Other Place to Go than X” appears in our Summer 2013 issue.