A Poem by Johannah Knudson

Johannah Racz Knudson

Johannah Racz Knudson

Johannah Racz Knudson works from Fort Collins, Colorado as a writer, writing coach, and content strategist. Her poetry has appeared in Sycamore ReviewPuerto del SolNorthwest ReviewPeregrineGSU Review, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Colorado State University and is a two-time winner of the AWP Intro Journals Award. In addition to poetry, Johannah is writing Transylvania Blue, a biography of one man’s survival across the forests of WWII Europe.

Cosmology: Four Score

and twenty two years ago, I came forth. They called me Jane. They called me Ingrid. They called me Mary Ann. I was under suspicion, a kind of probation. Another addressed me as Ruth. My surname was under contention. When I entered the room, a man dressed in navy blue pried open my palms and told me to turn my pockets out. My body was searched for bruises and contraband. Nights, I was bound to the bed with rope and twine until without it, I could not sleep. Mornings, I unwound like a spinning top.

At the border, the agent asked me where was I born and who are you and business or pleasure. He said truth is a virtue. He swung a thick chain. I raised my right hand. I said I do. He said: Show me your papers. He said: You are blonde. You are brunette. You are five foot seven. And an inch is about 25 millimeters. He asks how many feet in a yard, and what about a meter? And what color are your eyes? He says tuck in your pelvis before entering the room. He says you stutter. You are too shy. It is your greatest weakness. He says what a disaster you have made. What a disgrace. He tells me to lift my skirt.

When I finally find him, I kill the sovereign of his country. I blow his royal brains out with a tiny pink revolver. Never again will I undress for him. Never will he know my name. I am Juliette. I am Jasmine. I am Vee Vee. I am alone in my lonely, lonely, so lonely, alone, alone, my big bed, my king size bed, the royal bed, so wrong, so wrong, so unnaturally wrong. I have no choice; I bind myself to myself. I touch my own body. I dance in a gilded mirror. I crown myself. 

I come and come again. I am here. Time and money flee like schools of fish. No more Swiss bank accounts. No photos or autographs. The electric blanket flies from the bed. Frames fall to the floor. Atoms disperse. Electrons flee from their tiny, significant orbits and scatter, giggling, through the cosmos. Protons and neutrons relax their grip, drunk. They are in love with me: crazy, destructive, consuming love. They are overcome. My poems rub against each other and burst into flame. Atoms split in my honor. Consumed by their own light, a billion suns die and die again.