It can be demonstrated with thermo-
luminescence: the salt solution
retains knowledge of what it once held,
though nature, though logic
would tell it otherwise. Dumb as a bedpan,
the hydrogen bond remembers
the lithium, the sodium chloride no matter
how long distilled. There is so
little purity left in the world. Desire it,
dilute it, strip it down till nothing
remains, onion eyes wept dry, last flake
of the artichoke bit clean,
sour stalk swallowed whole. The homeopath
stirs his mug, glass rod
guiding poison to balm, balm to poison,
nothing settling, nothing
dispelled. With every loss the ache
of a phantom limb he never
believed in. And still he finds himself
awake at night, clutching the
cool insistence of a pillow to his chest.
Spring again. Its warmer breeze. Open screen door.
Another war buds up, pliant and green,
thick spores of restlessness
like pollen in the air–you could sneeze with it;
your heart could stop beating in a moment.
____bless you, you’re whispering.
As if a soul could leak like steam from its
cellular prison, as if words alone
could draw it back–white light, white light,
a sheet, a flag.
Every day more words to be wary of, that space there
in the blessing, that monotone
on the radio with its figures and dates and facts
and facts that rattle on long after
you’ve pulled the plug, glued shut
your ears, rattle on,
rat-tat-tat like something you won’t say
while you drown yourself in a cold water bath,
pry loose your silver fillings
because you’ve heard that story–oh yes,
you’ve heard it before,
but maybe it’s your whole body that’s
transmitting their signals this time, that subsonic
headache drone, your bones
the antennae, your marrow electric,
pulsing, mortar crumbling, bricks
knocked free, windows smashed, bits of glass
like blue gravel, tires and dumpsters
on fire with looting, the whole world
coming loose, thin thread being
pulled and pulled, wound tight
But there she is over the stove.
Relax, she says. Just relax. She’s cooking
dinner. Egg noodles and mushroom soup.
The kitchen dizzy with steam. Her apron
stained from years of fancier meals, wasted
energy, messes not worth
Not coming loose, she says, been loose. A grocery list
of wars, holy wars, hunger.
These pots just boil with their watching, is all.
Out on the porch the clatter of a small animal,
a neighbor’s cat. The faint stir
of last year’s dried-out leaves against the fence
finally being looked at.