Jasper by Linda Wojtowick

In 1964 the campus library burned.
The guard dog custodian was engulfed
like a skiff in hungry sea. She had tried clumsily
to douse the hall, the great oak doors with water.
It was a Sunday. Trucks came with red lights
ripping the grass. After this event she would be seen,
most often in the evenings of early fall.
When the light was long but thinning.
While the grasses leeched pale, swallowed by leaves.

Years later a student sat in the rebuilt archives
with a box of matches. A writer, of course.
He had dropped and broken his heart.
He was bent, gangly limbed, in a frozen blue scream.
Only fathoming the bruised air around his head.
If he had really planned to set the new wing on fire
he would have failed, and the flood of his destructive swell
shrink like a salted fish. He would not
rise up that day, nor show them all.

He hears her first, as a jangling of keys.
His chest shushes in between his arms.
He peers past some profound brown spines
to the next row. A shimmering woman
tries to pull a book down from a high shelf.
But she can’t move it, tries again.
Her hands are ash and seem to push back in
through her sleeves. The library grows colder.
Lamps lose their knees. Around them, in pages,
orchards of apples and hearts creak with emerald worms.
The body of a yellow car folds into meadows of wheat.
Wild rodents light frontage roads and unkempt ditches
by their shearing, luminous teeth.

Linda Wojtowick
Linda_Wojtowick-resizedLinda Wojtowick grew up in Montana. She now lives and works in Portland, Oregon where she indulges her cinematic obsessions without restraint. Her poetry has most recently appeared in Off the Coast, The Prompt, and Spoon River Poetry Review.