“Spring comes to Mid-Ohio in a Holy Shower of Stars,” Terry Hummer

On the clearest night of the early spring of my life,
An Easter Sunday, come in March the luck of the draw,
I saw a streak of light in the sky like the middle finger of God,
But it did not come down on me. It was the brightness
William James heard about
                                      from a housewife-turned-saintly spiritualist
That she said she always she always saw when the dead were about to touch her
In that certain way the dead have. I saw it effloresce and vanish.
Standing there on the road next to the blacked-out body of an oak,
I wanted to trance myself into the past, to get in touch
With the ectoplasmic other side.
                                              I wanted some strangeness to speak
Out the unpragmatic crystal ball of my larynx and name itself,
In the timbre I whisper to lovers in, my life. But then another
Finger gestured godlike halfway down from the zenith, another, another,
And the sky burned with the print of a whole left hand.
That’s the way it works:
                                  brilliance, a slap in the face.
Years later now, in winter, when he rusted iron wheels
Of snowplows gave their spiritual groans in the heat-dead midnight streets,
I would dream God’s immaculate body could suddenly be struck
With a human palm the color of fever, and darken, and die
But that mght in mid-Ohio
                                    I knew that housewife knew
When James sat in her dingy seance parlor with his notebook clumsy on his knee:
That nothing you have ever dreamed of saying comes of its own free will.
It has to be beaten out of you, word by impossible word, until the dead
Spread themselves in your flesh, like March dogwood spreads through the dark
And you speak,
                      and a stranger writes everything down.

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