Critical Mass

That night, facing the sky, both of us still salty
From the body that crashed softly in next to us,
We were reading God’s Braille.
Grasping for dippers, handles on meaning
And you consoled me –
That we were really just connecting dots to make nothing:
So many seem to be burning but have really died years ago.
We were watching the ghostly remains of butterflies
Flutter their wings at the fiery eye of the lamppost,
And I said, Like so many others I know… they’re just straining towards
The thing that could kill them.

Because, I believe, when speaking of lures such as love
All understanding, like turn-of-the-century water,
Must be tossed out the window –
There’s just no place for it in the house
Of the soul.

And then, you confessed you were no less
Than another astute believer in the domino effect,
That celestial bodies have no weight unless coupled with proper timing –
As if our minds were strict metronomes we could set
To discipline the weak inner-strings of our hearts…

My heart – that I find as incalculable and as graceless
As the fall of a meteorite,
Razing the rosebush in the garden, leveling the apples on the tree –
Smoldering, I have nothing left to give you.

For each of our words, when offered to the other, leaves us empty and cold
As the water poured on the crippled soldier
In the desert. One day, too long after,
He unpeels the slits of his sandbaked eyes, enough to reveal:
The wet, longawaited body of another mirage.

And stops straining, for a moment, to lie on his back – like we’re doing now,
And continue dreaming.

Marlo Bester-Sproul


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