Peter Gizzi, “The Question of Scale”

Thick as a ripple in a stagnant tide pool
      a line trembles until particles
of algae break off into an island, a puzzle
      part in consort with the earth’s
action around a star—don’t think
      too hard. An insect lands on a leaf
and is a leaf, forms translated complete
      with lung and eyestalk. A frail twig
floats the gray surface, divides our evolving shape,
      and the insect’s gone. The lapping waters
at the edge there—complete with rim effect—
      astronauts witness leaving the atmosphere,
or seen in a glass of tap water topped off
      on a sweltering day in June.
Chromosomes rotate too in continental plates
      like blood cells spinning just now
through chords of red and blue, or wheels
      on a train in a silent film leaving the station.
A stone skips the surface and the picture’s gone.
      An instant in the life of an evolving mosaic
is the shape oif space between our talk.
      Because the scene is torn in two
do you think there’s something you can do?
      Everything must come to rest eventually
and where you begin is not where you end
      unlike stories where apples falling from trees.
Today is a good day to begin. The sky
      blue above most rooftops on this street.
A tune is caught just outside the window
      with cries, train whistle and car alarm.
Protein reproducing itself endlessly.
      The woven string of knees, these threads
combined will stand, walk, and sometimes, fly.

from Artificial Heart (Providence: Burning Deck, 1998)

Camille Martin

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