TO PASS THE TIME, I READ ABOUT ASTRONOMY
I had a friend so afflicted with myopia
that she believed stars were theoretical
that the sky’s dim blur smudged over the
blades and furrows of the earth.
I learn that it is true:
that where my bright companions loiter
are radiant vacancies
subtle abysses uttering
efflorescences of lost time. These traces
like my pages, periodic pulses propositioning sense,
quick flashes to the dishes, open or closed,
straight frame to be spooled through, wound silk thick.
You and I orbit to different clocks
Solar and sidereal
thralled in the day’s straying blaze
or scintillating in the chill romance of distance
I read in the news about a woman.
This was supposed to be about her.
She flew a plane without knowing how.
She managed what they call a good landing;
that is, one from which
you walk away.
I didn’t want to know the details.
Her husband calling.
Her choices being to huddle around his last breath
or to fly the plane.
In such moments we are compelled to consider gravity:
Bernoulli’s law telling us that the wing’s curved and flat edges
flush air to make the vacuum known as lift
a myth as well told as an apple dropping from a tree
Against this, jet propulsion.
complicated by flaps, slats, wheels, and foils
to curb or carve our hurtling
elixir of naphtha and kerosene
Angles and intensities of beams, deduce us!
Calibrate our disorders to our desires,
with diffraction and fractional distillation
dissect the rocks and water
unspell the cyclic aliphatic; chain us to the fluid rush
of lines across lines; tell us
how to douse oil from a stone–
recite to us from the Kitab al-asrar
with ciphers and deliquescences
write over that apocrypha about sincerity
that the bust without a slip could be exhibited
argue instead for the water that keeps its shape
proverb us into silence
I’ve left her suspended on an exhalation
waiting for the scruff that means either life
or the certainty of decay
ion by ion repelling space to
sate an appetite for pattern
Fibonacci sequences pascaling us to faith
Is it just that rocks and seeds are like that?
Lock into a sea of frequencies
121.5, number of souls indeterminate
careening some miles above an unseen ocean
where the vitreous and resinous resolve
to the caress of fur on amber.
leavings of a frozen sea
remnants of a dying star
hydrocarbons, whale oil
on these we tack the certainty
of magnetic north
here’s where the parabola and the valley coincide
the thunderstorms far
the thunderstorms near
and Sagittarian hiss
She circled the line ten times
was this blindness or emphasis?
At last she came down.
I stand in the evening and look up
map you altitude to azimuth
A satellite is an object that tumbles at the rate the world falls
ever and always twinned in disaster
As I mentioned before, she has a passion for ants.
elegant ant, glossy, armored, corseted
ant mandibles masticating arugula mostaccioli inaudibly
antweed colonizing leas of remotest Brazil
festal ants in silent anthers of corn
vestal ants fervid vermin communing in the nave
supplicants among the celebrants
sycophants among the celibate
silhouetted, sanctified, and convenient
antipodean ants frantically semaphoring filaments up the underside of formica tiles
as, above, moonlight formicates slats of ceramic and slate
blind ants scuttling oracular sticks into fingers of manifold appellants raptured by elephantine appetites while needs unuttered but equivalent are chanted to the downbeat of a 6/8 sonata for tympani
Some antonyms for ants: atheism, capitalism, helicopters, meteors
Arctica, the Ant of which is nominal
Noumenal ant, or ding ant sich, that bites no harder than the phenomenal ant Kant blesses
jack jumpers, prick of which might spare asp-nurse Cleopatra, lips pursed in final admonition at absent Antony, or, fortune-fated, only speed calamitous anaphylaxis
indolent ant, faineant, lugubrious, and behind on taxes
miscreant ant courting wingless regrets
mendicant ant warbling eustatic ditties dating from the late Jurassic
irreverent ant capering sweetly against relics of trilobyte
herculean ant matched against titans, raising earth-bound demi-giant Antaeus to his hovering defeat
Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Hymenoptera Apocrita Vespoidea Formicidae spp!
O sapient ant, hymned of antique muses, auguring efflorescence with rain-damp ocelli
O decorous ant, shedding wings post-nuptial flight to consecrate the connubial hill
O antigonian ant, grubbing among the stones and ferns
while queens and drones carouse in mead halls of ancestral hills, telegraphing allegories of immortality along the hum of elbowed antennae
downstairs ants sipping honeydewed bristles of domesticated aphids
the old ant forages, a last farewell—
What did the pharaoh say to the carpenter and weaver?
Nothing, for he was adamant.
About the author:
My writing has appeared in Literary Imagination, the Bay Area Reporter, the Cambridge Quarterly, and on a number of notebooks, napkins, and envelopes.