( t = a* i + b * s )
A child pokes a pin
through a cardboard box, drapes
the opposite panel in white.
She is preparing.
In the days before my sister died,
she laid drugged, intubated
stuck somewhere behind watery
blue eyes. But we knew
she was there.
The doctors shined
a light into her, watched her pupils
pin. We exhaled.
The safest way to view
an eclipse is through a tiny hole.
At the right second, an image
projects and we are saved
from direct sunlight.
I was in Massachusetts again,
sleeping. My brother called, said
she was bleeding in her brain.
Overnight, which cell let go first?
At what exact moment did
the eclipse begin?
all the most powerful planets have rings
i’ve felt inexplicably further from stardust
and i realize that this isn’t how orbits work
but there is evidence that galaxies can combine
gravitational forces to sling shot black holes
through the universe like god is vacuuming
three times the mass of your uncle’s suicide
and the answer is in kilometers somewhere on 1-95
with your father driving, bursting comets like popcorn
my sister doesn’t live on this planet
black holes aren’t just some cosmic curiosity
we’ve all participated in them, probed the edge
of something more massive than us
ears pressed to the dome of night, begging
maybe casseopia can help me quit smoking
i should probably start viewing my lover
as the 90% dark matter that he is
i should probably start accepting myself
as the 90% dark matter that i am
both unknowable to ourselves
NO SCIENTIST HAS EVER SUGGESTED THAT DARK MATTER
IS THE UNIVERSE DIGESTING ITSELF
but the planets know that somewhere
closer to the edge there is an open mouth
drooling stardust in phosphorescent dollops
from gravitationally detectable teeth
what if we all understood
our rotation: a carnival ride on roller skates
whirling down an unknowable drain
carl sagan said we are
a way for the cosmos to know itself
i think i am evidence
the scientist triangulating the weight
of a system of stars
my sister at twenty-three gulps
me raising the cigarette
to my mouth
i’ve seen bodies revert to hydrogen
marched away slowly over years
as if by galactic ants hanging
a constellation of loss
i’ve surrendered as a part of the organ
everything rends itself inside
the bulging stomach of the universe
THE DRAKE EQUATION
( N = R x fp x Np x fe x fl x fi x fc x L )
my boyfriend and i go out for tacos
to celebrate our first full revolution
around the sun together
it is a big deal for both of us loners
we’ve been leading silent civilizations
inside our bodies for years
not used to contact, starting
on the back of a napkin, i write him
the Drake Equation, explain
R is all the new born, wailing stars
having their first blazing burps
expressed as a ratio in solar masses per year
fp stands for the fraction of stars
pirouetting hands out, palms
full of planets
Np is the average number of planets
fe slashes the number again by
the planets that develop life, I wink
at my boyfriend to convey the beginning
of the guesstimates
fl divides these meager lives
by those we consider Intelligent,
fc provides the final axe, the fraction
of these civilizations that produce technology
finally! as if we are not yet improbable
enough, the last multiplier L, the lifetime
of a civilization in years
because two intelligent civilizations
capable of communication
is a waste if one burns out
just as the other invents the radio
DID GOD CREATE CIGARETTES?
the universe is 90% dark matter
astronomers think it causes flow
slides the car into the embankment
pushes the plunger in the needle
makes the cells spread like fire
they say, we didn’t think
it would be like this
i sit on the porch with my mother
after my sister’s memorial service
it’s winding down, friends, most family
have left. my mother lights a cigarette.
she says, “this is it. i quit for three years
and i have to do it again.”
i say, “me too” and light my own.
SCIENCE HAS SOME SHITTY ANSWERS FOR MY QUESTIONS
geologically, the moon is dead.
i guess i’ve never really expected
the moon to be alive, but it still comes
as a shock to hear it’s dead.
this sucks. the moon’s dead but
i can still fucking see her, hung in the sky.
i used to think she smiled at me sometimes,
but now it looks like this haunted grin.
i used to paint my face & take to the fields
every twenty-eight days but now what?
i can honor her ghost every month?
i’d rather someone just pull the cord
& shut her out than all of us
stand here, mouths open, watching
her serene body floating through a still pool.