Didi Jackson

Medieval Notation and Mercy
July 21, 2021 Jackson Didi



On the first half of our hike the snow
was at our backs, on the second — the return,


it pelted our faces as we watched
spring instantly cloak itself


becoming monkish for another
several weeks, the wind a Gregorian chant,


the deer prints crossing our path
a square notation, maybe medieval.


All of this despite the spiders
who, back at the house, like small multi-armed gods


move easily across the heavens of our ceiling.
Even a moth gripped our window screen


just two days ago. Two days too early.
The world’s rhythm is set


with or without us. And I was pregnant
and then I wasn’t, and who


could blame me for wanting the world
to spin past me just that once.


We know the green below
the new layers of snow


will eventually become all there is
to see. Perkins Brook leads to Bingo cemetery,


the spot where we always start our hike.
It is our beginning. It is a beginning.





I prefer the charred smell of old fire rings,
tattooed evidence of laughter
like the kingfisher’s rattle at the water’s edge,
the shoreline the pallor of my skin; who am I
to be witness to the infinite
number of jays winging down the mountain —
blue beads weaving in and out of pine and beech
jeweled and brilliant? The air itself is their memory.
There is no freedom like that. The mountains
are multiple continents. How do I pray
to anything larger than this? Everything
is of me and so much greater
than me. And why quit this place?
Birch branches softly drum my name.
And when I say quit, I mean intentionally,
as with blades or guns, pills even.
Miracles fall everywhere like loose leaves.
A ghost rests in my arms and I rock him
for a moment as he remembers what was
good: the cool nights, the warmth of campfires,
the mercy that strips us naked to each other.

Didi Jackson is the author of Moon Jar (Red Hen Press, 2020). Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Kenyon Review, New England ReviewPloughshares, and elsewhere. Jackson’s poems have been selected for the Best American Poetry Series and Poem-a-Day by the Academy of American Poets. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee and serves as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Vanderbilt University.