Because I Feel Small I Practice Vastness


deep space begins at our heels, nearly rousing us loose: we look up or out so high, sight’s silk almost draws us away:
—A.R. Ammons, “In Memoriam Mae Noblitt”

Start with the toes

curled into the grass,
at the edge of the park,
imagine them rimming

the hem of the dark apron
of interstellar space.
Imagine the lips saying vast things

such as, “This is just a place,
the reality we agree with.”
Rehearse rearranging atoms

into a much larger vase—
imagine them mingling
with atoms of tumbleweed,

the hair of our children’s children’s
children, Jesus Christ, dust in the temple,
mycelia, Eliot’s street lamps, dead raccoons,

Betelgeuse, wedding lace in a box never
opened again. This part
is not a stretch. I’m enough

of a scientist to believe
in efficient recycling
of finite matter. Our atoms are not new,

are not even ours except
for this moment which
has already shifted.

But what of love? Is it just
another exchange—atom
for atom, tenderness

for tenderness? I want
to believe it is more than that.
I want to believe it is infinite

and that it matters, if not
for connecting the stars
each to each, at least

for cohering this small collection
of atoms I call mine to
the collection atoms that we call yours,

but even more, I want to think it might
link us to something even greater,
immeasurable, whole and holy.

If I have a hunger, it is for this—
to be deeply in love with all that is.
Not to name it. Not to own it.

Not to kiss it or drink it or hold it close,
but to stand in the grass at the edge
of the park, and feel without fear

how the world is rearranging.
Is it too small of me to say
I want to do it together.

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