mantra review

Fall 2018

J A Knight

The Return

The inevitable day seizes him and he wonders at the seasons that move from a pale mute into a greening that reddens to ash, and again. What an intricate story one can cultivate, if one has a mind to do it.

That morning, he remembers to revisit the lenten rose, and the yarrow, and ghost ferns that tripled in size. When did it happen, these crowding intrusions in his little bed? The beginnings of trees, even, had rooted so deeply, so soon. He almost laughed to see its brutal fecundity camouflaging the heart of things in forgetfulness and unrestraint.

He put on his gloves and set in, taking this fierce new green battalion by their stems. He likened the clearing to learning his senses again: the quiet sigh of soil releasing, the still, open-dark, waiting patch of earth. It was a feeling he’d known before life swarmed in around him, a feeling he had while flipping through snapshots of his youth. His brazen, vigorous grin, free-wheeling through all those seasons, flashing through all that he learned of what he knew of love. Recognizing something closer than himself and his distance from it all at once.


I wonder what happened then? To me. Suddenly altered, alive, and unmoored a plunge into a cold, green sea, no ship in sight, no net, or buoy, or hook to steady me. Now, I go under all the time. No thing makes sense.

If I could ask, I would ask this longing die here in its watery grave. Ask its death be a complete erasure, so thorough, not even memory can work upon it. If miracle strikes and I wake to a morning without a trace of it, I would go on believing in the life I made. I would believe in all the passageways and bridges and timetables I scrutinized. I could believe in the dock I held fast to while I gazed, blinking, at the shivering, light-kissed sea.

I can, however deranged this might sound, laugh about it, yet.


Oh love, come close. So close the mind goes, the thoughts quit their circus games, pack up the tent and set out on the ancient road back to oblivion. There’s no time for amusement when I am so hungry. All I want to do is tear open so my body becomes the sky; my thirst, the galaxy we gaze on; my longing, a sea bed; these tears, the sea. It doesn’t matter anymore that the passersby don’t see me as I am. I care not for their opinions, nor their brittle victories of pride, nor their gossip. I’d rather be here, ardent and aching, looking at this blade of grass in the morning, its green presence purer than any thought I ever had.

J A Knight is a Chinese American theater actor, director, and emerging writer. Her poems and monologues have been performed at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, and at various venues across the country. Her essay 'Life Code' was a Lyric Essay Award Finalist at the Eastern Iowa Review. She is currently working on a collection of illustrated short stories which she hopes will find its way to readers across the world. She is a graduate of the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts. She lives with her husband and her three dogs in Maryland.

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