One Poem by Diane Thiel

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Questions of Time and Direction

Why do they continually move in the opposite
direction from where they are looking?
It may have something to do with the way life
begins for them. While in the ground, they add flesh
over time until they are ready to leave the box,
or else they emerge fully formed from the ashes.

Almost immediately, they begin offering food
out of their bodies. They draw liquids and gases
from their machines to present item after item in a system
that fits it all perfectly into the Earth, in reserved holes,
the coal placed in storage via the replenishing mines,
the oil by way of wells, deposited deep into the land.

When did they become so generous? Giving everything
they have over time to collection facilities,
offering hides and fur to cover other beings, bringing
valuable ivory from homes to affix teeth and tusks.
They are even assisting in the creation of new species
at a more rapid rate than we have witnessed anywhere,

species they never even knew could exist.
How can they do it so quickly?
Effect so much change in a single generation.
Forests appear almost instantaneously,
storing so much medicine, so many answers,
and assuring the oxygen they need to breathe.

After a crash on the shore, the waves in their oceans
unroll out to sea, sometimes moving objects
toward places as far as the massive trash vortex. 
Like the currents, the ships, countries and even one hand
or another gather the debris from the patches, piece by piece,
the chemicals sucked in through tubes.

They do this collecting so regularly, they must
recognize the essential nature of their actions.
They seem to forecast the world using art,
drawing it in through brushes or other tools,
colors bottled into containers, notes into instruments,
words into devices or a simple pen.

Perhaps most vital to their continued existence
is the way they are regularly removing the toxins
from the atmosphere at a rapid pace, enhancing the layer
of protection that surrounds them. Unlike us, they need
a planet to exist. They are busy evolving their nature,
clearly necessary for their long-term survival.

So forward-thinking and such good stewards.
But we do have some conflicting data, based on other reports
from a closer perspective. It is possible that, like Venus,
their neighbor, at some point their sphere began turning
backwards on its axis. Time sometimes reverses,
depending on where we are in one universe or another.

Since we are no longer expanding out here,
at this distance from which we are observing,
we have begun to question if such a reversal
could be affecting our readings, if the way
we perceive them at this point might involve
a crucial question of time and direction.




Diane ThielDiane Thiel has published eleven books, including Echolocations and Resistance Fantasies. A new book of poetry, Questions from Outer Space, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in Spring 2022. Thiel’s work has appeared widely in journals and anthologies. A professor at the University of New Mexico, Thiel was awarded the title of Regents’ Professor in 2021. Her honors include PEN, NEA, and Fulbright Awards. She has traveled and lived in Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia, working on literary and environmental projects. Visit her website at

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