Babbage, Troubled by Vision at His Wife's Grave, 1827
The horizon always doubles when you look up.
The rim of day-moon clouds for a moment,
anything distant splits into two: a chimney, a belfry
in the district over, the dark plume of a far off train,
the tall masts of ships at sea. Even the dull birds circling here,
repeat images, one above another. So too, the men and women
gathered round you in black finery, the sable horses shuffling,
the silver-trimmed hearse, the gleaming ropes lowering
the coffin descending now into the earth. An almost
imperceptible sway of things. The brass plate upon it
bearing her name in relief—it too unfolding even as it fades
in the imperfect light. Your outstretched hand rippling
above the dark hole. The air full of memory, each atom
refusing silence, some vast library of breathing.
The words of the departed mingling with you, the one left behind,
grieving, who now raises a numb hand to an eye, joins thumb
and fingers to make a small opening from which you peer out,
in vain at a world collapsing into singularity and nothingness.
(First published in The Collagist, Issue 26)
is the author of The Lost Country of Sight, winner of the 2007 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry, and founding editor Boxcar Poetry Review. A former computer programmer originally from Canada, he is presently pursuing a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing at the University of Southern California. His poems have appeared in Barn Owl Review, Crab Orchard Review, Ninth Letter, Sou'wester, and elsewhere.
Art ~ A Quiver of Foto's photostream (flickr)