The Idea of North


After Glenn Gould


If you will take off your hat and stay awhile
I will explain that there is something

fundamentally satisfying about a long period
of silence, followed by the intake of breath

as if, when the soul is present at the moment
of birth, waiting to slip into the body

the possibilities branch like antlers, hands
for to be in possession of a body, if only

for a short amount of time is to be satisfied
that the barrier of skin is both an insufficient

boundary between the blood and the air
as well as an insurmountable obstacle

and for one beat the idea of heaven appeals
and the next it seems a sacrifice of vitality

which is another way of saying the left hand
doesn’t know what the right hand is up to

and looking up holds no answers but we keep
on looking as if we could divine something

from the clouds today: how like fingers pushing
down upon the sky as if searching for a pulse.




Emily Saland received her MFA from George Mason University, where she was the Heritage Writing Fellow and Editor of Phoebe: A Journal of Literature and Art.  Her poems have appeared in DIAGRAM, The Cincinnati Review, Smartish Pace, The Seneca Review, Radar Online, and elsewhere.  She works and teaches at Marist College, in Poughkeepsie, NY.




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