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Richard Ryal


Doctor, last year, on a romantic whim,
we rode a great balloon and looked down
at patterned fields, plots so tiny
we covered a town with one hand. Above us,
the broad lifting bladder hid half the sky
while we screamed. The floor of the basket
felt like a liquid trying to turn solid.
At that altitude, I felt another force,
a prehistoric shove that had no need for me,
the touch of the Elder Wind
that has stirred the sky since the earth woke.

Blood instinct, a fear of downward scatter
and extremities flailing, drove us back to earth.
We celebrated landing in hills gorged with bug chatter.
Amora was pale in the glaze of low sky,
dark gold with a touch of silvering.
We traveled home excited and diminished.
To celebrate an unmovable floor and ceiling
we claimed our bed again in gratitude.
We flagellated our limbs into a single octopus.

Later, the thrills dumped from my nerves.
The day imploded, a flame inside out.
My spirit bloated into lethargy, sunk through the ceiling
below our feet, through floor after floor of apartments
until I ran out of ceilings below, landing
far from the Elder Wind that lives eternally
where I cannot survive. Later still, falling into sleep
I looked down on mountains, then descended
through the roof of a cathedral groaning upward
against its consecrated ground.

Doctor, don’t fix anything unless
you can show something I haven’t seen.
I would tell you exactly what I need to know
but sensations obscure my view. My muse
stacks all her kindling behind my eyes,
where I’ll never see her light.
I transcribe her shadows, that’s all.
Doctor, I wish I could tell Amora
why I can’t explain this.

Bio: A poet, professor, and editor, Richard Ryal has worked in marketing and higher education. He stops for no obvious reason sometimes and no one can talk him out of that. His recent publications include Notre Dame Review, Sheila-Na-Gig, The South Florida Poetry Journal, and Amethyst Review.

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