Rigorous
Volume Five, Issue 4



Erika Gill


The Eye

Miraculous engineering of flesh aside
the eye is an unmoored spinning orb
of relativity and truth
captivate
misdirect
manipulate the softer
unarmored hearts

exposed, a vulnerability
to the unseen intrusive
naked, it cannot perceive
protected it is also blind

blue silicone suction of swim goggles
a saving grace
while fogged and obstructive

keep out
a virus
rubber bullets
tear gas

But to see!
To know by seeing
to trust the point of view
visions of calm, health, peace
injustice

yet burn from mourning
overwhelming openness of a world cloistered
my eye wreathed in a fiery corona
all seeing as the slitted Maiar
witness bodies falling
and I, willing to risk its loss
to see justice done.




The Rats of Notre Dame

Squeaks and scampers
accompany the night music of the cathedral
exhausted from the weekend trample
of thousands of tourist feet

Gray bodies skitter
sleek through the night
and I try not to sigh again and contain
in my chest the outburst forming
like a storm cloud accumulates

He tells me in words accented that allure me
that there are few stray cats in Paris
but points out Jupiter (or maybe Saturn)
and shows me how to tell by the steadiness of light
if we are looking at a star or planet

I always assume they are airplanes, I say
and sip from my bottle of water, not wine
and wish we had spent each night of the past week
wandering together along the Seine

the water a glossy satin ribbon in the dark
beckons me to descend the stone steps
in the quai and surrender my body to
the embrace of an ancient city

the ache of three hours walking on cobbles
didn’t diminish my desire to stay
the petulant sadness of soon-coming departure
dug claws into my chest and pricked my eyes

I looked so hard at the Haussmann architecture
gilded softly in the mellow amber of streetlights
I thought I might crack the stone
and with each inhale I hoped my lungs would retain
the mass of non-oxygen molecules and become heavy
immovable

He would probably point out that such a thing would be fatal
and I would agree, inclined to be maudlin and absurd
this final midnight in my own placid, unintelligible heaven

Paris loved me back, maybe he would not have
and maybe it is best that I wasn’t impulsive and foolish
and didn’t try to stay
but my pulse warmed my veins
as he kissed me solemnly on each cheek
and then was gone.



Erika Gill: “I live, write and build community in Denver, Colorado. I grew up primarily in Victorville, California, which is notable only in being the filming location of The Hills Have Eyes. My poetry may be found in birdy. Magazine, Angel City Review, and petrichor.”




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