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Richard Fein


Catch one on a cold slide,
lay it out like a corpse on a gurney and pursue the autopsy,
focus your squinting eye through the eyepiece
while aligning the entity over the hole---
and before the rising light,
under an objective lens
lies a translucent singularity,
a crystalline pattern
not quite like the other falling billions.

But its unique complexity is brief
for the heat of the light and a steamy breath
reduce the pattern to a drop,
a drop among drops
that are all disposed of in a beaker
to splash randomly against the clear glass.


Perhaps someday in retrospect and in a much bluer mood,
we'll remember this rouging sunset with embarrassment.
The evening colors will be recalled only as a refraction of rays.
The flight of that gull will be seen exactly
for what it was, a hungry hunt for exposed horseshoe crabs,
and the white foamed tide just a force
that knocked a child's sand castle down.
From across the bay the diffuse city lights
will not, to us, have become more appealing,
rather we'll just remember that the sun
had inevitably set on this first day of our meeting;
and all the colors around us simply paled in the dampening light
to a plain black, white, or gray.
Later we might recollect only
that oil-soaked mud seeped into our shoes,
or a plague of mosquitoes bit our exposed skins,
or the stench of decay was awash on the beach.
But such memories lie ahead of us,
for now let's sit on this dune and watch
that gull glide home from above the sea
fluff her feathers, caw to her chicks
and guard her nest through this midsummer's night.
Let's tuck ourselves together, play out this dream:
two beings so very close, and for the moment
as mindlessly blissful as the spawning horseshoe crabs.

Copyright 1999 by Richard Fein

Contributor's Note