★ ★ ★ ★
Was I sleeping when I fell?
No longer a full-fledged planet,
but a body, circling
the outer groove of a cosmic belt.
No longer reigning over constellations of concubines –
and without, even, the pale breath and plain dreams of humanity –
still, I can almost feel the taut stretch and burn of a tendon,
pretend my mountain ranges are teeth
sharpened on bones and seeds.
cosmic moss is seen trailing
from my sleeves
and my pores appear
not the yawning gores of mythic asteroids,
I know myself,
know the story told by my slow spin,
know I must turn my face
from each hypothesis
and bathe in the milky glow
of my banishment.
These Summer Nights
The sidewalk stores the day’s heat like a heart
that grips the flames of past resentment —
so what can we do but close our eyes
the sky doesn’t arc above us:
we’re in it, we are the sky —
dark matter and molecules,
the breath of a thin blue embrace —
and the stars, those pricks of light,
are still close enough to spin
the shimmering threads
that keep the galaxy
of our fears
From the Imaginary Journals of Venetia Burney
the math-loving English girl who named Pluto
In class, I fly on the backs of winged numbers —
with computations, I can have my plum cake
and eat it too, both the thrill and the comfort
of equality — 12 – 3, 8 + 1, 45 ÷ by 5 —
so many ways to get to nine,
or any number that I like.
But even from my silver hill of symbols and signs,
I sense the warped orbit of fear and scratching here.
Running my finger over the raw letters carved
into my wooden desk, I trace the initials of a girl
I once saw trip a fellow student then
apologize with her lips shaped
in a honeysuckle smile.
Today our teacher drones about Plato’s ethics while I braid
strands of my hair with the hair of the other girls —
bully, witness, victim — a woven rope to read
like braille and bruises when I can’t sleep.
I hear a new planet has been found. Would life be better,
more fair, on the edge of the galaxy?
Maybe in places where only dim starlight shines,
appreciation for each pale ray is multiplied.
Linda Ferguson has won awards for her poetry and lyrical nonfiction and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize for both fiction and poetry. Her poetry chapbook, Baila Conmigo, was published by Dancing Girl Press. As a writing teacher, she has a passion for helping students find their voice and explore new territory. bylindaferguson.blogspot.com
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