- Author: Brooke Matson
Book online «In Accelerated Silence Brooke Matson (epub e reader .TXT) 📖». Author Brooke Matson
Jake Adam York Prize Selected by Mark Doty
© 2020, Text by Brooke Matson
All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in critical articles or reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without prior written permission from the publisher: Milkweed Editions, 1011 Washington Avenue South, Suite 300, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55415.
Published 2020 by Milkweed Editions
Printed in Canada
Cover design by Mary Austin Speaker
Cover artwork: Eagle Nebula by Gorän Nilsson via Creative Commons
Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
20 21 22 23 24 5 4 3 2 1
Milkweed Editions, an independent nonprofit publisher, gratefully acknowledges sustaining support from the Alan B. Slifka Foundation and its president, Riva Ariella Ritvo-Slifka; the Ballard Spahr Foundation; Copper Nickel; the Jerome Foundation; the McKnight Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Poetry Series; the Target Foundation; and other generous contributions from foundations, corporations, and individuals. Also, this activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
For a full listing of Milkweed Editions supporters, please visit milkweed.org.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Names: Matson, Brooke, author.
Title: In accelerated silence : poems / Brooke Matson.
Description: First edition. | Minneapolis, Minnesota : Milkweed
2020. | Identifiers: LCCN 2019022503 (print) | LCCN 2019022504 (ebook) | ISBN
9781571315151 (trade paperback ; acid-free paper) | ISBN 9781571317353
Classification: LCC PS3613.A8386 A6 2020 (print) | LCC PS3613.
(ebook) | DDC 811/.6--dc23
LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2019022503
LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2019022504
Milkweed Editions is committed to ecological stewardship. We strive to align our book production practices with this principle, and to reduce the impact of our operations in the environment. We are a member of the Green Press Initiative, a nonprofit coalition of publishers, manufacturers, and authors working to protect the world’s endangered forests and conserve natural resources. In Accelerated Silence was printed on acid-free 100% postconsumer-waste paper by Friesens Corporation.
There will be music despite everything.
“A BRIEF FOR THE DEFENSE”
Ode to Dark Matter
Elegy in the Form of a Pomegranate
The Day Before
Eve Splits the Apple
Broaden the Subject
Law of the Conservation of Mass
Our Lady of Guadalupe
Metaphors of Mass Destruction
Psalm of the Israeli Grenade
Elegy in the Form of an Octopus
Law of Inertia
Elegy in the Form of Endangered Species
There Is a Room in the Four Dimensions of the Space-Time Continuum
Elegy in the Form of Porcelain
Sonnet in the Higgs Field
Ode to a Fractured Conch
Elegy in the Form of Steam
How to Eat a Pomegranate
Elegy in the Form of a Butterfly Bush
Sonnet on a Hook
Ode to a Rotting Apple
Ode to the Returned
Ode to the Sun
ODE TO DARK MATTER
I speed through the moonless
night—porch lights thinning
into silhouettes of trees.
Emptiness isn’t empty,
the radio scientist insists. Relieved
you’re here to hold the aching
stars apart, a muted backdrop to the howl
of headlights streaking by, I bend
the pedal to the floor.
His voice describes a mine
deep under the earth
where professors hunt the flutter
of your wings
in accelerated silence—
wait for you to slip, to exhale
into their sensitive machine, eager
to assemble your breath
in data streams. They think
you’re already theirs:
a variable to ensnare in a net sum,
the way children trust
answers to soothe.
Dear wild unknown: tow the borders
of this universe far beyond
our grasp. Whatever we see, we break—
count and dismember
all we touch:
The earth. The atom. Anatomy. Eve.
Be the animal that escapes
our love without a wound.
ELEGY IN THE FORM OF A POMEGRANATE
Eve was like that: eating a pomegranate
like smashing a chest of rubies.
She split the whole
vermilion world in a violent need to know.
My finger circles the crown, traces its tight circumference,
red and round. I pluck it from the mound
the grocer arranged and hear the question
I asked you that night, when we were just beginning
to trust each other: If I were a fruit, what would I be?
The Latin for fruit is pōmum
and some reading that Bible believed Eve
ate an apple. I hold your answer
in my hand: You are striking. Tough to crack.
Worth every effort, you said. There’s an art
to eating a pomegranate. Cut away the crown
until you see the chambers inside—six bedrooms
shining with scarlet chandeliers. In a bowl of water
use your thumbs to tear the walls apart.
I wonder if you ever ate a pomegranate
this way when alive, and if you wanted—
the way Eve wanted—to be understood, to understand,
to be freed from your flesh like a hundred supple seeds.
But this is a supermarket, not a bedroom,
and my cart is empty
and I am wavering on the scuffed linoleum
of the produce aisle, rubbing the skin of a pomegranate
as if it were your hand.
THE DAY BEFORE
the doctor called we whispered
over a white-clothed table
in my favorite restaurant, sipping ruby
bulbs of Malbec. You weren’t hungry
(a symptom, we later learned) but insisted
I order the portobello.
Like magnets, our knees
locked beneath the table, a phenomenon
you loved to point out. Waiters hummed
around candles like sable bees
and evening honeyed the sills.
We’re gonna do everything right, you said,
setting down your glass and grinning—
meaning July, Seattle, meaning
two children and long retirement.
I couldn’t help it. I reached
across the tablecloth to touch the lines
at the corner of your eye.
It took you by surprise, my thumb
brushing your skin as if painting
the edge of you.
Light ground to silver powder, suspended in a syringe
the nurse slid into your vein. I tasted metal
you mused after, as if it were an experiment
not a hunt for cells intent
on your death, not an ore that could solder
your body to life. We didn’t know
technetium has a half-life
of four million years. It burns in the bellies
of red giants—stars smoldering
at the end of their lives—a highlight
before the collapse into gravity. I feel sick
you said. We agreed it must be
that terrible metal. I’ll sleep it off
you said. We didn’t know
the isotope that laced your veins
was stripped from fuel rods,
old nuclear reactors—
a chemical back-burn to fight the fire
igniting your scan, igniting your left
brain like the night sky.
It must still be there in the soil:
rust from the ribs of the stars
dividing in the rind of your skull, scissoring
one life into many.
Let there be—
you said, and assembled me from fusion / fire / a timer