Sunday, October 18, 2020

Encounters with the Truth

"The sun through green leaf's flesh . . .
 branching veins . . . planned avenues . . . "

Incidental Finding

The sun through green leaf’s flesh recalls
the X-ray: inner structures seen
but imprecisely, branching veins
and something like planned avenues
all leading to the source of what
we never cease to seek. Too few,
too momentarily alight,
these chance encounters with the truth.
The X-ray that permitted me
to see both into you and through
(the glowing silhouette of your
soft tissues like the swaddling soul)
still diagnoses it: “a mass,”
the radiologist in me
could not help noting first—and then,
your failing heart, terribly large.

The Mental Status Exam

What is the color of the mind? Beneath
The cranium it’s pinkish grey, with flecks
Of white mixed in. What is the mind’s motif?
Depends on what you mean: it’s either sex
Or it’s a box, release or pessimism.
Remember these three things, ball, sorrow, red.
Count backwards, from one-hundred down by sevens.
What is the color of the mind? It’s said
That love can conquer all — interpret, please.
And who’s the President? What year is it?
The mind is timeless, dizzy, unscrupulous;
The mind is sometimes only dimly lit.
Just two more silly questions: Can you sing
For us? Do you remember those three things?
by Rafael Campo (b. 1964)
Poet and physician

"What is the color of the mind?
. . . pinkish grey, with flecks
Of white mixed in." 

The Universe is a House Party

The universe is expanding. Look: postcards
And panties, bottles with lipstick on the rim,

Orphan socks and napkins dried into knots.
Quickly, wordlessly, all of it whisked into file

With radio waves from a generation ago,
Drifting to the edge of what doesn’t end,

Like the air inside a balloon. Is it bright?
Will our eyes crimp shut? Is it molten, atomic,

A conflagration of suns? It sounds like the kind of party
Your neighbors forget to invite you to: bass throbbing

Through walls, and everyone thudding around drunk
On the roof. We grind lenses to an impossible strength,

Point them toward the future, and dream of beings
We’ll welcome with indefatigable hospitality:

How marvelous you’ve come! We won’t flinch
At the pinprick mouths, the nubbin limbs. We’ll rise,

Gracile, robust. Mi casa es su casa. Never more sincere.
Seeing us, they’ll know exactly what we mean.
Of course, it's ours. If it's anyone's, it's ours

by Tracy K. Smith (b 1972)
22nd Poet Laureate of the USA, 2017 to 2019
See also:
The World is Your Beautiful Younger Sister



Thanks to my friends From Jill & Phil
for sending me these poems
from the Science Friday website, March 29, 2019


Mysterious note to self: "misspell"
[Not sure what I meant by that? Any ideas?]

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