By Medeleine Mori

the omnipotent way the pendulum swings,
graceful almost as the way my Grandpa recoiled,
colliding with the floor of the swimming pool, weightless
amidst its cloudy glow.

I’m driving through the North,
among the giant sequoias and the mysticism
of the dew that inches along the spine of my windshield,
I remember that utter chill:

After the slip of dark,
the mountain back roads would breathe vapor
like the pavement was a crust of mineral spring stones,
one large ethereal beam gently
sucking up their particles.

My cousins and I
would hole out in the guest bedroom,
where our Uncle had muffled his seizures since
that night the back roads grew unyielding
and he swerved too late.

we played a game we liked to call “Send Me Up,”
a children’s scale of creation and destruction,
a game that chose when it wanted
to play with us.

The shaft of light
from a sedan’s incandescent bulbs would sway
drunkenly outside our window, then into a driveway.
This sight, and the sound of Grandpa’s silver chair
clanking down the hallway

Would make our nerves
ripple and our joints feign rigor mortis, pretend
we were laying flat and stubborn on sheet metal
with our heads together, spinning like
a water wheel.

But on this night,
the lights did not sway. They stuck
sickly yellow like a harvest moon in the window box
above the guest bed, clashing statically
with the bright daisy covers.

Something about that light
called our little bodies to be outside in our nightclothes,
moist with the loom of sleep and the scent of dark earth,
our toes as thin as the pine needles, our eyes glowing
with dreamlike attention.

We stalked the darkened house
and when we came upon the spot,
still radiating in our minds, we found no body snatchers,
no extra celestials, but the fragile form of a robin,
frozen, mid-flight.

Madeleine Mori is currently a student at California State Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo, finishing up an undergraduate degree in Wine and Viticulture. It was during her studies at Cal Poly in the classes of James Cushing and Kevin Clark that she discovered her voice and confidence in poetry. Her work has been influenced greatly by the two major cities of her native California, San Francisco, where she was born and primarily raised, and Los Angeles, whose restless people and sprawl helped to grow her narrative style, and of her Japanese-American heritage, another lifelong inspiration and quest for illumination. She is planning to pursue an MFA in creative writing upon graduation.