peaches; the trout; nuclear fusion
By: Caroline White
i’ve wondered how the tumbleweed looks graceful
stumbling into itself, almost taking flight, but then always
staying here like it knows responsibility, like it is tethered by love
to this earthly life. i read the pages
that the previous book owner has dog-eared, the poem about peaches
by li-young lee. blossom, impossible blossom, he writes.
how the peach is more than the peach,
more than its flesh and its flavor,
it is the shade it endured, the sunlight that melted onto the fruit,
the days and nights of its nativity, sweet impossible blossom.
grains of salt can catch light and glitter, never even knowing.
i watch them in my kitchen, forgetting my body,
and i feel anonymous like the moon.
my father was religious about using the parking brake
and now i reach for it, too. it almost feels like someone there, warm
and quiet, the small company of it. and where my father was,
now just the stillness like the unpopulated parts of north carolina,
the flat expanding farmland
that mimics eternity.
the sky needs to heal after the airplane goes through it, and the airplane
needs to land eventually. I look back through the midwest rain
and I feel the big pull inside of me again -- I'm still learning
how to talk about the plains, what the flat earth can do to a girl.
my solitutde is an attic that I undress in. I sit on the library floor
and read about architecture and when reading is too much,
I just look at the pictures, and when looking is too much
I close my eyes heavy with the buildings and listen
to two people talking about the pandas at the zoo, how great it is
to see them in motion. to be around them when they're just
moving. that's a deep and true love, I think. I'm looking for a book
about fishing, even if I don't know why; everyone copes in different
ways, maybe. I sit down on the carpet and finger through
the pictures of fish, these are all black and white drawings and i'm re-breaking
the spine with every page. I'm the only person
on the second floor when I remember seeing venus standing
on my porch. it looked like all the stars around it.
unextraordinary, beautiful celestial body. and inside,
my father in his bed, maybe it was barely june,
how I am beginning
to forget, the distance between our mortalties
expanding like a flower in blossom.
my crying blotches the greenback trout,
lets his fin expand a little into the wilderness
of page 84.
the trees charred but you
heavy on my mind like boots trudging through
the tarred snow, and the fires spread through
western north carolina like a dream transitioning
into the next one, expanding aimlessly, looking for
new realms. i’m trying to find myself in an article about
nuclear fusion, how the stars with the most gravitational pull
have the shortest lives. i try to find you, too. i think of the pain
that you carry through this life, endless in its bearings, and you,
the unextraordinary body for which i search, covered and sometimes
un-covered, weighed down by these things you know,
like a drop of rain on a single seed -- stopping its flight
and it lands in a parking lot, it waits
and it makes its quiet life here. i want to tell you
about the small comforts of this humanity, how everyone
we see has about the same body temperature as us.
the immeasurable softness of a knife spreading
strawberry preserves, the tenderness, the trust of
the turning lane: the cold asphalt, in its violence, paving
a way for me to reach you.
Caroline White is a poet and fiction writing living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She focuses her work on the intersection of grief, femininity, and place. She received her BA in English from the University of Maryland and completed graduate work in poetry at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.