My friend explained to me once what is was he loved about the line from a poem, “stares down at his shoes/ and thinks about the universe.” For him it was the phrases intense dilation on the meager lifeless laces and the sudden expansion and openess to the vast and mysterious. In that spirit, I wrote a poem that enjoys that plasticity poetry has, to accommodate the microscopic and the massive.
This morning, I was staring at the dark star
Of my halved grapefruit, thinking how it’s tiny center
Might hold the sixth dimension, or maybe
The seventh, and because the infinite
Reducibility of matter oversteps the boundary
Of my expertise, I thought of Wordsworth,
that anecdote in which he attempts to steady himself during the nauseating trip
Of the earth gliding on its orbit.
He hunkers up against an oak tree,
And br.acing it with his arms, mutters to himself
That he is rooted, that this tree is the center of things
He can praise, that every poem he will write
Is the whistle a traveler blows in a forest when lost
In my pocket is a little scrap of paper
Birch, fallen bark I found while walking to drug store.
Something in its bony greyness, the brittle
Weightlessness in my hand,
Suggests I consider my own place in the galaxy,
The distance travelled these last few hours
And the light years that outruns each of us,
As we speed ahead on the highway
Of space-time, never quite knowing,
Or arriving, wherever it is we go.
“I shall praise it”-Robert Hass