A Fisherman’s Aurora Borealis

A Luminous Phenomenon
by Maj Ragain

reading by Tom Hall

There is a spirit, a certain force,
inherent in the blood…
and the nature, yea, the soul
in this spirit and blood is identical
with the nature of the stars.
                            William Harvey
                            Seventeenth Century Physician

I sit down with my doctor,
a young woman in a starched, white coat,
who asks me how I am feeling.
I tell her I cannot jump
as high as I used to,
but I can stay up in the air longer,
that the body is nothing more than
the material aspect of the soul,
and my soul shines like
the full harvest moon
in the cloudless sky.
She reads my brave talk
for what it is: whistling
past the bone yard.
She knows I am waist deep
in muddy water.  

My blood pressure.
All my life I have been trying
to get it up, to feed the fire.
Now, she wants it down,
systolic, diastolic, the hard arterial math.
One pill dilates the blood vessels.
Another relaxes the heart muscle,
the shump shump thunder pump.
Breath is a wheezing squeeze box.                
Narrower is the way,
year by year. 

She smiles softly, takes my hands.
We bow our heads in prayer
to our heavenly father
who teaches love is the first wound,
who clears the sugar cane fields
with the blade of his hand,
who gathers the hungry children
unto him that they might taste
the sweetness of his grace. 

One night, in 1953
when I was thirteen, my father
shook me awake and called me out
to the back steps of the cottage on the lake.
It was the summer of the lights,
Aurora Borealis, the northern lights,
great spikes of cold orange fire running
up to the zenith, hot lava cracks in the sky.
My father and I sat, wrapped in a blanket,
watching the lights dance out over the water.

I wanted you to see this,
My father said.
It is caused by a great storm on the sun             

A Fisherman’s Aurora Borealis
oil on panel
12 x 12”

Maj Ragain. Clouds Pile Up in the North: New & Selected Poem Press 53, LLC, Winston-Salem, NC, 2017 p. 122-123