From on going project

Every morning greeting


Even missing you is beautiful

Washing on sky

I wasn’t, by any means a natural.

Was not one of those wow-hounds

born jaw-dropped. I was tough in the husk.

Went years untouched by rain. Took shelter

seriously, even and often especially

in good weather, my tears like teenagers

hiding under the hoods of my eyes,

so committed they were to never falling

for the joke of astonishment.

When I was told there were seven

wonders of the world, I trusted the math,

believed I had seen none of them.

Of course, beauty hunted me.

It hunts everyone. But I outran it, hid

in worry, regret, the promise of an afterlife

or a week’s end.

Then one day, in a red velvet theater

in New Orleans, I watched Maya Angelou

walk on stage. Seventeen slow steps to the mic.

She took a breath before speaking,

I could hear God being born in that breath.

My every pore reached out like a hand

pointing to the first unsinkable lotus in the bayou

of the universe. I’d never felt anything like it.

Searched the encyclopedia for the feeling’s name

when I got home: “Goosebumps.”

Afterward I thought—I can do this.

Started training morning to night,

crowbar swinging like a pendulum at the wall

of my chest. Tore the caution tape off

my life and let everything touch it:

Alan Iverson on the television in his first season

with the Sixers, crossover sharp as a v of sparrows

flying to the paint like Michelangelo’s brush:

333 goosebumps.

My baby sister, sober for the first time

in thirteen years, calling to tell me she just noticed

our mother’s eyes are green:

505 goosebumps.

One day my friend scored tickets

to a Prince concert. Tiny venue. I was right

behind the sound booth. Prince’s entire band

that evening—women. At the end of the show,

the sound person turned around and whispered,

He didn’t play one song on his set list the whole night.

I live on stages. I know what it is to scratch a plan

but not the whole trip and still arrive to your destination

two hundred years before your time:

421 (artists formerly known as) goosebumps.

But that’s just the fancy stuff.

Some of them came from simple facts—

it rains diamonds on Jupiter.

Blood donors in Sweden receive

a thank-you message when their blood is used.

One night in Michigan, my friend,

still undiagnosed, could not uncurl her fingers

to strum her guitar, so she sang the chords instead.

It was the first time in my life I’d seen pain

become an instrument:

10 dozen goosebumps

for each and every note plucked

from the string section of her refusal to silence

her dream. After that, nothing in the world was gray.

Even the movie of my past was released in color.

The oldest man in my hometown could not

get to the door to listen to our carols,

so we went inside and sang at his bedside instead.

Twenty-four boots on the front step catching snowflakes with their tongues:

776 goosebumps.

At one point, everything started doing it:

A sincere apology.

An enemy’s love poem.

The moon rising over the continental divide.

My love and I thought it was a car

driving off a cliff, and suddenly nothing

in the world was dying. You ever felt that?

A split second when nothing in the world is dying?

888 goosebumps

and the next day I sharpened a tiny ax

so I could split the seconds myself.

Too much lives in a moment

to not feed it to the fire in the heart, slow.

A Missoula treehouse filled with candlelight.

The octopus documentary.

The biggest dog in the shelter

hiding behind a teacup chihuahua,

and the woman who came to adopt a cat

taking all three of them home.

There is no escaping the magic now.

Beauty caught me and never let me go.

And the thing about the world record

is—if someone breaks it after me,

oh, and they will break it after me,

I will love that so much

that without even trying,

I’ll just break it again.

By Andrea Gibson