Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2008 Vol. 7 No. 1

Archimedes under Myronas

Under the prayer, the calculations in Greek.
In the calculations, suspensions of iron
grown dry and settled into the pulp
are drawn out by rays: mathematician’s scratches
rise beneath the magical murmur.

What is written beneath that? Breath.
What is written beneath that? Silence.
In this small space
he inscribed the theorems of the body.
What others remember is a day
that never happened:
He turned a mirror toward the sun
and on the sea armed ships burst into flame.

Where are my fingers on fire?
Where they run across your spine.
Just here, that fertile crescent I call mine.
Who will write of it? No one.
Turn to me. Days rattle between us like dry bracken.
Bullets clatter in the holy land; they will write of this.
There is no rain coming, but great floods.

Do I exhaust you?
Or just this living? Just this heat?
Outside the window the green things wither.
What happens between us is lost
to all but the us
that exists the moment it happens.

Mosquitoes bend to dip into our skins.
The blood we loan them
requires no transformation.
Below our numbers,
below our incantations

the pulp itself coalesces into paper,
calfskin, papyrus reeds, a river in the desert.
Lay your body against mine.
Let a light aged by centuries
figure out our bones.