Kimberly Johnson's collections of poetry include Leviathan with a Hook, A Metaphorical God, and the forthcoming Uncommon Prayer. Her monograph on the poetic developments of post-Reformation poetry will be published in 2014. In 2009, Penguin Classics published her translation of Virgil’s Georgics. Her poetry, translations, and scholarly essays have appeared widely in publications including The New Yorker, Slate, The Iowa Review, Milton Quarterly, and Modern Philology. Recipient of grants and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Utah Arts Council, and the Mellon Foundation, Johnson lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. --------- Vigil
The time of miracles is past, as the stars
do not declare in their slow shrug over
the shot-bulb dark of the back lot
of the Second Universalist Church. What
did I think I’d see? An omen of lyrids?
The aurora borealis winging
like a wurlitzer annunciation?
I am too late, and too far declined
from true north for visitations,
and my great symbolic stars
mean hydrogen, mean gravity, mean mass.
The church windows are low and dark, no belfry
to tell the hours but the fitful buzz
of a bug-zapper, the windknock of apples
untimely onto roofs. Some bird chatters something
I can’t make out. In all the watches
of the night, all the world’s objects crowd
around me, all flaunting their gorgeous
opaque. Miraculous unknowable:
is this what I’ve been watching for?
Not this: you the urge and I the page.
Not this: you the harrow, blades sharp
to turn the fallow field of me. Not the wheel
that turning winds the carded wool of me.
Not you the pick and I the Rickenbacker
cherryneck with the humbucker pickups.
Not you the piston whose combusted thrust
shoves the rod that drives my crankshaft.
Not I the vehicle, not I the sign
and you the substance, you the blessed body
absent and sublime and I your accident.
Not though we both were nothing thereby.
You are not my ____. I am not your sign.