When It Is Over it Will Be Over

by Paisley Rekdal

Paisley Rekdal

Pen and ink painting by Troy Passey of a line by
- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Hurricane of what must be
only feeling, this painting's
sentence circling to black

on blank, ever-
tightening spiral
of words collapsing

to their true gesture: meaning
what we read
when not reading,

as the canvas buckles
in the damp: freckled
like the someone

I once left sleeping
in a hotel room to swim
the coast's cold shoals, fine veils

of sand kicked up by waves where
I found myself enclosed
in light: sudden: bright

tunnel of minnows
like scatterings of
diamond, seed pearl whorled

in the same
thoughtless thought
around me: one column of scale

turning at a moment's decision,
a gesture I
was inside or out

of, not touching but
moving in
accord with them: they

would not wait for me, thickening
then breaking apart as I slid
inside, reading me

for threat or flight by the lift
of my arm, as all
they needed to know

of me was in the movement:
as all this sentence
breaks down to Os and Is,

the remnants of someone's
desires or mine so that
no matter if I return

to that cold coast, they will
never be there: the minnows
in their bright spiraling

first through sight, then
through memory,
the barest

shudderings of sense:
O and I
parting the mouth with a cry

that contains—
but doesn't need—
any meaning.

2016, Vessels

Last updated August 26, 2022