Ascension

by Charlotte Matthews

This time the dream is about sacrifice:
who is willing to give up their life
for another, who will tell the truth
when the house burns down.

Next door is the anatomy classroom
where a cadaver rests
on the formica table. Each day I think
of going to see it, how I’d lift

the sheet back to the face
of someone I’ve never known,
skin paler than wax
and much more fragile.

My mother was most alone
in the company of others.
She could close herself in
in a way I have never seen

like the homeless woman
who wanders the city
assuming a life that can’t be
found in any house.

Right now students perch next to
the replica of a skeleton, counting ribs,
writing down what they’ve found
as if to report some truth.

If, at last, all things are fire,
look up there:
a hot air balloon hovers mercilessly
over the November field.


Author of two full length collections, Still Enough to Be Dreaming and Green Stars (both Iris Press), CHARLOTTE MATTHEWS’ Whistle What Can’t Be Said is forthcoming from Unicorn Press. Recently her work has appeared in such journals as American Poetry Review, The Mississippi Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and Ecotone. Her honors include fellowships from The Chatauqua Institute, The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and The Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Currently she teaches writing in The Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies Program at The University of Virginia.