God came to me in a dream last night, woke me up in the
silhouetted shape of my father, told me as light slipped through
pale slivers between the shades that it was time. “Time for what?”
Questions burned at my fingers and cinders stuck to the roof of my
mouth, dry ashen remains residing on the tip of my tongue, but I
waited a breath and let the fire of queries consume me to the point
I could no longer hold my 10 year vow of silence. Question marks
branded into little symbols on the surface of my skin, raised scar
tissue that could be read like desperation by gently splayed fingers.
I slipped out the door, boots in hand, and cool earth and concrete
met the balls of my feet. Fog filled the walkways and blurred dull
and flickering traffic lights, gold orbs bleeding into peripheries
suspended in my retinas like tiny floating spirits. Through the mist
I watched the 35W bridge collapse and wondered why, saw a dog
narrowly escape being hit by a car, watched the first wobbling
steps of a baby girl, the bleeding knuckles of a man unconscious in
an alleyway. I followed the tall footprints with unease asking in
good humor, “Has judgment day come early?” God smiled a lack
of response, the mellifluous benediction of ancient green moss like
Buddha statues, a certainty unattainable to my charred and
grasping fingers. I remembered my 6th grade math test where I
begged an all-knowing being for answers and hoped for their
speedy return in ancient tongues. When I was not seized by a
sudden and holy illuminated pathway to the interpretations of the x
and y axis I determined that the vast universe was constructed not
by a man but by small indelible strings of light. “Why a man?” I
pant after a minute, winded from following each step of those long
legs, time whizzing past with a dull hum, worlds eroding, wars
waning and waxing and volcanic ash forming new islands, land as
liquid and susurrus as glass. “Why not a woman?” When inside
my body is where that seed blossoms, where drops of blood seep
into my underwear each month, holy stains you could read like
psalms, the saint like prophecies of a reoccurring stigmata based
on the moon. We’re seven days too late, and light splinters off the
silver handle of the door to the diner and shines blissfully bright
piercing my eyes with holy radiant accusations and the key to
omnipotent bliss. Smoke machines and neon open signs create the
illusion of heavenly solace, some place suspended below the stars
and above the cornfields of Midwestern America. He holds the
door open graciously and we’re directed to a linoleum table,
colored Virgin Mary blue. I push forward reluctantly but with new
determination, smoke seeping between pursed lips, filtered air so
pure oxygen is lighting small explosions in my lungs. We slide into
a booth, sitting across from one another and stare briefly in a
meditative trance at the lists of salt, bread, water, and his favorite
indulgence, wine. “Well?” I ask and he shrugs, hiding behind the
plastic shield of syrup drizzling over picture-perfect heavenly-light
pancakes. In the back of a crowded table between the damp ankles
of Moses and the imposing figure of Joan of Arc is a dejectedlooking
18 year-old reflection of myself. I saw her as I came in but
stubbornly stare at the small black type listing the determining
factors of an altruist and say, “Martyrdom sounds rather
appetizing.” In my head I remember this night as having already
occurred unto infinity, replayed like a skipping record, a cold
winter traced by heavy snowfalls so white and pure snow angels
rose in crystalline structures and offered blessings for a small
monthly payment of—“Just watch,” he says. There’s coffee on the
table and the bitter taste doesn’t comfort the way the scent insists. I
remember creamer, sugar, and crayons on napkins, the compulsive
need to draw. For a moment he looks once again so like my father,
something mysterious and forbidding in his features, and I want to
ask him about his childhood, about a life that superseded mine.
The strange ghostly man in black and white photos that sits in the
booth behind him, behind me, a generational gap of fatherhood.
Televangelists speak in tongues on a television above the counter
and outside there is a vast distant darkness illuminated by lines
traced by passing cars that seem to confuse and merge with the
light of stars. My grandma once told me that stars were holes in the
sky, a black blanket concealing a world of impossible brilliant
light. Light that could pierce your lids with the promise of holy
forgiveness and absolution. It slips inside my tongue and fogs my
thoughts, and I can understand for the first time why language
melts in the presence of enlightenment. Science says the sun will
expand in pulses, like a stuttering heartbeat, and swallow the Earth,
the one he casually mentions he made in seven days. Seven days
for you is lifetimes for me and together we quietly count the rings
of the earth on the rings left by coffee cups on the linoleum table.


in light and under dark

light wove soft feathery threads through porcelain, spelling out in
the dark wispy letters of elegance. she kissed me the way you kiss
a peach, slowly, savoring the curve of flesh until illuminant reds
dripped into yellows and tongues slid eagerly together, tantalizing
sensations of undisclosed entropy. Persephone swallowed six red
seeds but the telling was the pink stain dripped down soft desperate
lips. six, only six, so this tumultuous madness of apples oranges
slippery stick to your fingers strawberries must mean our downfall
will make hell feel uninspired. the alarm clock blinks a neon green
of 4 am, accusing us of a tasteless disrespect for our neighbors’
peace of mind. it starts with whispers, secrets offered like
sacrifices that pool into the stained glass windows of your ribcage.
Then we stop. Time flickers uncertainly and your skin is hot
melting wax, temporal and indeterminate of a definitive reality.
Eros is shadowed silhouetted by the curtain and in the dark you
distort his shape with description, paint a picture of a lonely girl,
naked under thin cotton sheets, trembling as her hands trace a face
unfamiliar. in the dark I run a hand over the sharp curve of your
hip, feel the fragmented silk threads, cotton-colored scars,
apologies carved chronologically in braille. outside a dog howls
and trucks moan over pavement and thin yellow slices trace
morning in soft painful strokes through the blinds. when the first
pale shard touches you, you fragment into kaleidoscope colors,
constellations unmapped and dimensionally unmarred. Ariel turned
to sea foam after all you muse and I kiss the remains of the inside
of your fragile bone white wrist.

Sophia Zdon’s poem “Enlightened” won third prize in 2014 in the
Second Annual School of Visual Arts Writing Program Contest. A
senior majoring in Illustration, she was once a feral child found in
the woods north of civilization while feasting on the flesh of the
innocent and guilty with no distinction beyond taste. She currently
resides in Brooklyn and is an expert at navigating metro transit.