Candace Pearson

Versed
by Candace Pearson

The cat vomits up a bird head on a rug in Los Angeles
and winds shift direction in Argentina.

Nabokov was right about the butterflies. They’ve been
traveling from Southeast Asia for eleven million years.

The cat chokes on some feathers, chevroned gray
and white, and along the Bering Strait a whirlpool

swallows an unsuspecting catamaran, and swallows
roost in stately palm fronds shading the Maldives.

The cat spits out an eye, pea-sized, all-seeing
eye, and ten thousand toads turn their gaze to the moon

as the tides go out and the tides never come back
the same. Nabokov walks through these lines

with a net, scattering his Polyommatus blues
from Siberia to Alaska to Chile and away we go,

watching the great man count butterfly genitalia
to prove a theory about an old voyage to a new world.

The cat is coughing up an O’Keeffe painting,
bleached white against seared blue sky, and I wonder,

what am I doing here? Memento mori, the Romans said.
Remember you must die. What omen, what

essential truth lies in the throwing down of bones
stripped of sinew and vessel and pin feather?

I found it and I named it, being versed
in this spinning world, its errant magic, the dark cells

that feed the hurricane inside our bodies. Nabokov
was wrong: the journey’s short. We take it anyway.

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 17, Issue 1.

Candace PearsonCandace Pearson’s Hour of Unfolding won the 2010 Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry from Briery Creek Press, Longwood University. Her poems have appeared in fine journals nationwide and in several anthologies, including Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose About Alzheimer’s Disease and Sharing the Seasons: A Book of Poems. She lives in the Los Angeles hills.

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