In slanting sunlight, we find ourselves amidst porch furniture, in the pregnant hour of a marriage as familiar as the air, thoughtless, lightly rocking the globe from its orbit with every shift of our chairs. Her sneeze unseats a dynasty a world away; she moves across the porch three steps toward me and straightens the pin on which our planet turns. And I in my loopy ellipse have orbited her always, turning toward her always the same blasted landscape of a face, through solstice and equinox, through deaths and divorces, births, engagements, weddings, the variably fruitful lives and always pointless deaths of other people’s children. Is there a distance more electric than that inch of atmosphere vibrating between her fingers and mine, so rich it propagates the world? The fireflies light and fade and light again, illuminating only themselves. The stars too squander their light on nothing but the arc of time, that black unintelligible other globe. With every twinkle a virus takes hold, a village is torched, a leader surrenders his way. With every heartbeat, a planet is extinguished, cools to ice and plummets toward its sun. In a rainy republic the name of which we’ll never know, a bored uncertain cynical smalltime hoodlum in a beard, to galvanize a ragged contingent of lifelong rebels, offers a prisoner a deal: to save his own life he can torture his prisoner friends. We can’t afford to love each other less. When called upon, we lend a shovel to unbury survivors, or send our check to the pagan peoples everywhere, like a tip for leaving us alone, and chart a tiny orbit from our lamppost. And on a cool night, with the lightest touch, she traces the arc of a single life across my skin and mends the unmendable world.

Copyright ©1997-2006 David Hodges

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