A Visitation

by Jessica Pierce

Crouched on the hospital bed,
I watch storm clouds scud
over the horizon. I remember
one roaming afternoon,
my flat-chested shadowless-
skinned child-self caught
stunned by great machines
passing over me. I fell, pressed
my face into the sand, afraid
of their bellies full of gleaming.
And now, what I thought would hold
has given way, but gently, like lips
drawing back from a kiss. I thought
it would be more like a clear cut—
massive-toothed tools spun
around and around, opened sky
left behind. Or like an earthquake,
tumbling the stones that men in my family
stacked and thought would hold. Instead,
the morning teemed then fell
silent. I hold my ground,
watch my flesh soften
in the dunlin light.
And then I'm holding
a small squalling being,
bare and smooth and freely
in the world, wearing the pleasure
and pain of not knowing such
tunnels of color, and my body
is all myself
and I let out a high-
pitched grassy cry.

Jessica Pierce has worked as a farm hand, file clerk, bicycle mechanic and teaching poet. After taking up space everywhere from the San Joaquin Valley to Arkansas to Boston to Guatemala to India to Oakland, she now lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, a sitar player, and their two-year-old daughter. As the lead teacher and language arts teacher at an alternative school outside of Portland, she works with high school students at risk of dropping out. Her work has been published in Painted Bridge Quarterly, the Christian Science Monitor weekly magazine, outwardlink.net, The Times of India (Kolkata), and the Northwest Review, which nominated her for Meridian magazine's 2007 Best New Poets anthology. She's had the privilege of studying with Rosanna Warren, Dorianne Laux, Pimone Triplett, Sam Witt, and Jorie Graham.

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