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Rachel Chenven Powers

Crossing Over


The present: an infinitely brief duration; a distinction; a location.

A threshold: the time it takes to cross a space and the space being crossed, all at once.

Rilke wrote: “Everything is gestation and then birthing.”


Sleep is a depth; dozing is a surface. I am held just under, like a dead body under the sinuous drape of a white sheet.

Is this place analog or digital, continuous or sudden, a break, a flip, a feedback loop?

I half-wake up, find a body beside me, and nestle in. Like underwater swimming, meandering, burnishing the borders of skin. One squeeze at the back of the arm, a pinch, and I fall in, keep falling, a slow anfractuous twirl like the light downward momentum of a leaf on a drag of wind.


Dreaming is a voice at the bottom of a well.

The orange slash of hallway light rims the door like a bracket; the sound of night-street noise grates outside the high window, suggesting heavy machinery.

The truck becomes a windstorm. The house becomes a labyrinth. My hands become paddles, the sea surges up to meet me, and no explanation is needed: all scenarios and motivations co-exist, an unfolding multiverse of alternate realities impinging one on the other and pleating silently, if urgently, into each other.

Our human penchant for causality and closure.


And there I lie, a flop of warm meat waiting. A segment of the flesh that pinks the red world. Am I moving or am I still? What changes?

The world consists mostly of transitions, their completion and resistance, their metaphysical position vis-a-vis the way things happen. A process, not a thing. Ongoing, rearranging.

Which is different than simple flipping: energy collected and dispelled. Like the chivalrous slip of your tongue at the edge of begin. The scrabbling, begging, no-holds- barred end-stages, a pleading, a please, a pulse like the light of the sun as it peeks and recedes between distant leaves, please, yes, please—not yet—yes.

And it’s over and done.


The integration of smaller parts into a larger whole gives rise to new states of being, phase transitions between levels of complexity.

Yet how can something arise out of nothing? How can one kind of thing become another?

What changes?

For all we can know in this life, it’s all mid-transition.

Zeno’s Paradox, an infinity of half-steps.
All is in-between. Everything is gestation and then birthing.

Rachel Chenven Powers lives in Portland, Oregon. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in EntropyEastern Iowa ReviewLake Effect, and others. A graduate of Brown University and the University of Chicago, she also has an MFA in creative nonfiction from Portland State University.