Finalist : Terrain.org 7th Annual Contest in Poetry
consider last autumn a war and today the quiet restlessness that follows. when the bricks must be relaid
but building comes second to sleep and sleep comes second to wine. certain nights we think it will heal itself without our help. it’s possible
we’re right. better to sit and wait for summer, sip slowly from our glasses and shiver through the damp of February. ignore our itching bones. we shouldn’t miss
the fighting or the losing, yet we do. these days even the wind can’t decide whether it’s moving or standing still.
“astronomers capture violent newborn star”
think the womb of space, or empty pockets, their lint. some millions
of years between, & this just a light show—do you see? the butterfly net cast across
galaxies—asteroids & comets slipping unseen through the mesh
& isn’t it such a mystery—the looking back in time, the wrapping of the mind around the word distant
the fact is, it’s all so much farther
than we realize. these days I find myself mired in science. in the dark my blinds cast shadows across angled walls,
supernovae teased from flashing blue police beacons below. I lie next to you
or no one & it is almost a comfort to know that we are made of quarks that we are as much carbon as dying
stars & what I mean is, we’re all so much farther than we feel, touching
but not touching in the afterglow of a violent beginning—the purple-red spread of all this universal burning
after “The Space Project”
i. the cobweb in the corner of the ceiling vibrates with the sound of it: all planets & noise,
this music set to the universe’s static—the grandest case of tinnitus doctors never diagnosed.
the spider eats a fly, wrapped. I pick at the skin around my fingernails.
ii. my ex-lover told me that one night on the porch he heard three cockroaches mating & he saw it as it happened, & the noise was this slight, moist, exoskeletal rubbing—
like a tiny washboard in a tiny bluegrass band like the predator shrunk & slowed down to a crawl
& the finish was something profoundly unsettling the shuddering close of wing the dismount
the flushed, satisfied scurry across bare feet
iii. maybe all living things vibrate at this same frequency maybe we time our breaths & thrusts & chirps
to mete a harmony with unseen moons with the gone stars we’re made of—
iv. now the web is tensed & still; now the spider lounges, bloated
now I am heavy a gas giant now I rise become a crumb in no atmosphere
v. maybe we are so small so unbreathing
maybe we make no sounds to the universe at all—
vi. skin terraformed, I am transformed
into some new earth ripe for alien life
I tell this to the universe & wait & wait
I tell this to the universe & it says nothing back
Katie Prince received her MFA from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. In the spring of 2017, she will be serving as artist-in-residence at Klaustrid, in Fljótsdalsvegur, Iceland. Her poems have been published in or are forthcoming from Fugue, Smoking Glue Gun, Portland Review, and Gigantic Sequins, among others.
Photo of Eagle Nebula by WikiImages, courtesy Pixabay. Photo of Katie Prince by Katie Prince.