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by Ceridwen Hall

conspiring with Marion Milner’s “A Life of One’s Own”




another self emerges between assignments, to follow the dog into winter dusk and watch the snow fall. Not sociable, but perceiving

joy in the animals and joy in the desirelessness of shapes

something that seeks a dance of unnamed constellations and to be hallowed while I remain unsure of the space between hope and ambition—both feel borrowed, both itch and dissipate into fullness of doubt, into the darting pleasure of witness:

the dog’s leap, the hare’s escape





not inventory, but awareness

the facts of my life were not so many fixed items which only needed adding up and balancing. They were rather the continually receding horizons of the traveler who climbs a mountain

each summer. We travelled West or to the Great Lakes. Memory pretends to be a map, a mindful of porous borders. A mind field dotted with matterness. It was a kind of double life, for me, to have siblings, to spin idle. I still think differently

on horseback, breathe differently
in a boat. Am realizing, still




I want—strange radical verb, turning pronoun to character, hungering, driven—

laughter, its satisfaction and balance and wide security. A perimeter that includes, that adopts speech. How easily I accept a phrase I enjoy as my own

impulse, how frightening the fall minutes of wanting nothing
carrying heaviness in a backpack, trailing

laughter, then: moments of covert hilarity: the turkey nearly flipped, then salvaged. Animal echo of it, and carols playing elsewhere—circling wide the paleness of winter night. Winter for a long time will be when I return home, where orbit

and periphery summon

a hundred little gravities





pulling against canopies of logic, I began to have an idea of my life, not as the slow shaping of achievement to fit my preconceived purposes, but as the gradual discovery and growth of a purpose which I did not know

perhaps one unknowable

after worlds of make-believe, I wrote, education is the best disguise; remembering a game of sardines, then a row of pines, a sketch of pyramids, a hushed assembly

I wrote: It will mean walking in a fog for a bit, but it’s the only way which is not a presumption, forcing the self into a theory

or theories—I encountered many during my desert sojourns, my degree-seeking years—none wide enough, none impervious to breath filling a mask. Fog I thought I had learned to traverse, slowly and without high beams, on the way back and forth. But how, I wrote, do I tell fog from smoke? Both evoke the false substance of cloud





viewed from above

there was indeed a pattern: I was reduced to my education, enriched by it. I was habit and acquired fact, a few narrative spindles. A body of thought climbing a spiral staircase. Or was I the staircase battered by the feet of thought? A plummeting mistrust in the hours between landmarks

where altitude unnerves





because intelligence is a game for spies; it colors and complicates the map, recasts the school play. Little flags march across the brain. Canyons widen over years, a self erodes or is transmuted. By memory, could once recite the road not taken, which perhaps the feet and lungs repent. I would continue to wander the library after every graduation, as if unable to shed my cover story. Between jobs, between endings, I began again

to suspect that thought, which I had always before looked on as a parachute, dragging against fear of the abyss, tangling around limbs, might be really a Pegasus, so suddenly did it alight beside me


Ceridwen Hall is a poet and educator from Ohio. She’s the author of Acoustic Shadows (Broadstone Books) and two chapbooks: Automotive (Finishing Line Press), fields drawn from subtle arrows (Co-winner of the 2022 Midwest Chapbook Award). Her work has appeared in TriQuarterly, Pembroke Magazine, The Cincinnati Review, Craft, Poet Lore, and other journalsYou can find her at