Mount Hope Issue 9, Spring 2016

Page 63


The Good Year by Julie Swarstad Johnson That was the year I found webs bridging roof and power line, branch and brick, filigree across every open space on my porch. And all those spiders, so delicate among the strands, wincing back, nervous, timorous at the slam the screen door makes. That year I rushed to a job I almost quit weekly while the sky grew wider and emptier every month: vast, shallow plane like the shore-end of the ocean, but pinned in place, every shiver restrained. At nineteen I had discovered, on a beach in Mexico, that black band on the horizon, at nightfall, when ocean and sky blur into the deepest intimation of emptiness opening unexpectedly, the possibility of no satisfaction. Ahead, in that flat year behind a desk, that year—instead of wildfire—green flushed the mountainsides, outrageous, weird blush applied too enthusiastically. And the color: hue of a dry country, in which the eye perceives something held back, some wavelength suppressed or greyed out, but what remains turns brilliant, translucent, lit from the inside, stained glass seen for the first time in darkness, coloring the night even when I look away.