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In Which I Start to Get a Migraine and Think of
Hildegard von Bingen


It's scintillating scotoma; we know that now. Not spirits at work, not Christ
or many angels. No eye of god, no swirling maw of creation itself just

a flicker in the occipital cortex, a hitch in the get-along, back
of the brain. At first I thought I was going blind: Sunday

Times missing chunks like articles clipped out of father's paper, my face
peering comically through where I thought things

were. Text swimming, holes burnt out—no, still burning, still
glowing at the edges, hard at work. I tried to read, to see things

by looking to their lefts, tricking the brain before giving up, calling
the authorities. When it happens to Hildegard she just assumes

it's a vision, Christ Almighty. Christ, a visit from Christ
is practically worth the headache. Hildegard: who could she call?

She looks around at her same old nunnery, now carnival-lit, strobed, ripped
open: These are True Visions Flowing From God, says her declaration

in Scivias—sure they are: Why not? God flowing, flickering down like tickertape
in the sun, kaleidoscope burning into Metro, into Styles, through her ceiling, licking

flames painted above Hildegard's painted head, her eyes
rolled back, scintillating flames in the vision, reaching down or crawling up.


Jill McDonough

The Malahat Review

Spring 2012


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