My Vertigo

David St. John

Began in Vertigo when
Jimmy Stewart believes he sees

Kim Novak falling past him
As he climbs the bell tower of

The Mission San Juan Bautista
Namesake of my family

Which traveled every
Summer to visit the mission

My mother loved best & in
Its stable the old carriages

Preserved & elegant with their
Fringe & polished leather

Beside the raw lumber drags
& rough-hewn wagons

& I knew nothing of the Ohlone
Brought by the Franciscans

To be pets of God & to build up
His glory on earth

Before half of their tribe finally
Deserted or died but when

My parents took me at ten to
The Tower Theater to watch Hitchcock's

Meditation on fear & the shadow-self
Since we all wanted to see again

The familiar plaza we loved
& to recall the rich rank smell

Of those dank stable planks
I understood even at that age

That Jimmy Stewart like any
Believer had risked everything

By believing what he saw
& so like any lover becomes

Victim to what he believes
As he discovers it wasn't

His doubt that had betrayed him
But his easy certainty

That what he'd seen must be
Believed which allows no doubt

Exactly what God admits most
Often hurts any man I mean as

Example these feathers of light
Falling or this body of an angel

Swirling beyond the heart's gravity
Out of our near & unforgiving sky