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Poetry

It didn’t help that the boys are Jewish,
and the stone angels only clumsy halfway-
hoverers, not as smart as electrons,

quarks, or strings that turn like dazed
rubber bands in a breeze. It didn’t help
that we’d walked all over Paris first.

Still, the rose window entered them:
a complication, a shattering of light.
Like the picture I saw of the inside

of the Hadron Collider in the Alps,
built to blast protons down to their
fundamental elegance, down

to the particle responsible for mass,
responsible for that cauldron of a window,
too, that scored and soaring ceiling.

There we were, our animal smallness,
our imagination turning in the distance
like a kaleidoscope.

What I learned

this year: you were propped in your
hospital bed, head lolling to one side,
one eye slightly open. We’d taken turns

for weeks, helplessly rubbing your feet,
machines spreading their arms overhead
like bony angels. Then we watched
your mind settle back into your body
and go to work again, inventing
everything, including itself. And where

was its source, the still surface refracting
the lights of consciousness? Nothing
I can say will ever name it.

My feet went flat on the stone floor:
it was a long way around the little chapels,
the saints with eyes like boys’ eyes,

loving the subatomic, the ultrasonic.


The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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