100 Million Billion Stars Found Hiding in the Milky Way; The Organ Donor Discusses Options with Her Body; You Say Poetry Is Weather for the Mind, Not an Umbrella

100 Million Billion Stars Found Hiding in the Milky Way

Direct observations are hindered by patches of
galactic clouds and dust.
—Daniel Pomarède, Paris-Saclay University

The way fog hides the unknowns of Stonehenge

or a cavern stashes bats

as wind
rips primrose from its roots?

Can the same forces
that cause a wall of galactic dust
to seem insurmountable,

the fabric of the Universe bunching up against it,

explain why a visible child might send up
a wall of docile words,

a vapor meant to save her
as she pretends that her father’s intimate

are meant for someone else,
and that she loves him

though she doesn’t?—

Or why the syllables
she mortars herself into will never grow
high enough to hide her,

and the wall is heavy, and it hurts?

If no amount of conjured dust and clouds
will ever keep him from finding her,

would that explain
how she knows that some scientists will never stop

to pin down everything out there?
Organ Donor Discusses Options with Her Body
I know I should, but I haven’t
signed you up

It’s so hard to think of you

separated from my
self, beloved

shell, empty of contents
numbered for transport:

corneas, kidneys, liver,
lungs. But not you, heart,

your injury’s too specific
& too grave

& not you either, brain,

though if a newborn
needed us,

wouldn’t we let
someone cut us

from the corpse
we’re becoming,

so that we could trigger
the charge that fires

her heart?—
help her to feel

along her vast
and perfect neural

pathways, all
our electric awe.
You Say Poetry Is Weather for the Mind, Not an Umbrella

after Nick Laird

I say an umbrella is not
a curve in the mind’s ribbed construct,

but a spoked and broken
barrel to shepherd us over the falls.

I say the falls are not the lake’s lachrymose
meanderings, but snowmelt

that the winged god of the wind
made vicious

and that, though his viciousness
fills our reservoirs,

his snow melt’s still a glacier
lost to trapped gases.

I say trapped gases
will not be the ultimate end of us,

but the means by which we are exposed
as cowards

and, though our cowardice is not
the sole weather of our temperament,

it’s the ribbed and scissible construct
we hide our ugliness under

and, so, poetry is not weather
for the mind: it’s our desperate umbrella.