Study in Waking: Testimony to Kaleidoscopic Autonomy or to the Earth’s Forgotten Anatomy – Amy Poague


I solemnly swear: I’m tired of my aliveness, this planet,
my human uterus.

I swear: if this life is a hologram, I don’t care.

In that event, I’d rather be precociously gold
holographic fireworks,
a preternaturally luminously
fuchsia sparkler held aloft by hands
made of wind, the aurora borealis
as reimagined by a wiser universe, on the widest sky-canvas.

I’d rather stoke the particolored intersection of air and fire
from a seat in this sky,
never touch the ground, never reproduce.

My oath echoes another kaleidoscopic estrangement
turned aspiration: I’ve been informed:

the Earth would rather be
a colorful hiding place left
unlocked and abandoned. Telling the whole truth

means saying: I happened upon the door—
like the subway, but with no train,
no stairs descending,
no destination in mind.

I don’t remember my descent, but the comfort of cement walls
painted brightly
to amaze.

Solemnly: No thought of my safety
as a woman
in a forgotten cave.

An abandoned place knew how to shelter me
because I had already left myself

for solemnity, for pleasing, for earnest pleasing.

For others’ truth and nothing but their truth.

Abandonment, acting a fool, remembered me to
a grotto,
a cave aglow,

Remembered me to abrupt delight: the cement analogue to my sky-canvas.

No, there was no male Sheela-na-gig guarding the door,
and if there was, I already told you, Your Honor:

I am as real as he could have been,
the as-real-na-gig-thing, prism-dazzled, nobody’s fool.

I am still the woman alone beneath the street, wonderstruck,
leaning against an abandoned car, my apparent companion
in abandonment. Why not? I make room for nonsense,
endless room.

A car door left ajar for years.
My dazzle-compromised powers of observation
yet tell me: this is the second abandoned door, one of many
I may encounter sequentially in this life,

the one nested inside the first.


Dearest pocket of Earth, my estrangement turned aspiration:
I could be as real, transreal—
show as much love
as your painted walls:

the first sight that ever welcomed me.


Hey lawyer!
The abandoned vehicle, if coaxed from stasis, meant
to run for its life with no driver. On the lam
from the Earth. From itself.

In court, I solemnly thought this, and then I said some of it:
The car’s possible departure from the hiding spot. Yes. I do think.
The steering wheel belonged to secrecy.

Otherwise, my mouth would have told the judge Good luck with that justice.

I imagine I was worried, picturing
a driverless car
driving off the edge of Georgia by now.

Something strange happened with autonomy, I suppose.
The door to my (Earth’s) kaleidoscopic will
left ajar for years
before I discovered it.


So I imagine
my surprise:

Dear self, I felt safe beneath
the street, like a fool. I suppose
I was with a friend.

At least, I was befriended by colors. My mind
turned to confetti then, as now,
until I was safe
in a secret cup of Earth.

The way beneath the street was five-dimensional glitter
translated into a secret

di di di dah dit

with confusingly colorful dots and dashes.

A person finally embraced by Earth
can’t yet ask for counsel, doesn’t even need to know her questions, doesn’t understand
but is finally understood.


In the final cross-examination, an encoded secret finds a way to crawl
beneath the street, then it takes you
to court, feeds you visions.

I have no advice, all you Sheela-na-gigs,
save this: Allow yourself the welcome, the colors, the cave.

The car—my life—was an audacious non sequitur, the reason I woke up.

A car alarm pulls me back to the surface:

a couple nights ago,
I had a striking dream.
I was still on the Earth, of the Earth.

Forgetting this dream is against someone’s rules.

Amy Poague is an Iowa City-based poet working at a junior high. She holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from Eastern Michigan University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Opiate, The Mantle, SWWIM Every Day, Really System, Rockvale Review, Mojave He[art] Review, Transom, and Helen: A Literary Magazine. She is on Twitter @PoagueAmy

Image via Pixabay

cabinet of heed contents issue 16

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