by Brooke Matson
Metaphors of Mass Destruction
the typist’s fingers miss a key
on the invite
taking care to bend the brads
upon receipt the president
launches a missile
her grandmother’s necklace snaps
at the party
under the sink
down heat shafts
look you’ll never find them all
besides the string is broken
a fingertip traces the rim
of an empty wine glass
The Law of the Conservation of Mass
i. Big Bang
Maybe there was a word—
a short, single-syllable word that fell
like a long-traveled drop
of rain and shuddered
a seed of light
into a flock of starlings,
wildfires of wings.
How long until matter
clotted like drops of mercury
into planets and moons and stars
into a pulse
and a brain that believed?
ii. Trinity Test Site
The bright plume
that blossomed from the ground was a voice
But those goggled scientists didn’t listen
and they’re all dead
and when I touch your photograph
on the refrigerator, the spiral of my fingerprint
marks your cheek
like a small halo of cloud.
Life doesn’t wait, I hear you say.
Outside, the starlings sing
the afternoon to grey while lilacs
abandon their fragrance.
iii. Operating Room
The thin knife that severed your tumor—
from your body—
it cleaves me still.
Those dead scientists asked a question that killed
and we are still
dying slowly from the answer.
Microscopic cells swell like buds
of peony—swell and split
like that first flower of fire.
Think of a lit match—
how its head vanishes.
All light was once matter
and all matter shall become light.
Evening draws me back
into this bedroom, as it did on days we woke
together, when your fingers found the sheet
and pulled it the extra inch to cover
my bare shoulder. The starlings sing
at morning and evening,
the same doorway—sing
though the hollow your hips
carved on the bed has no mass
to hold its shape. I want to be folded whole
into the light that fills your place.
Brooke Matson is a poet, book designer, and the 2016 recipient of the Artist Trust GAP award and Centrum residency. Her first book of poetry, The Moons, was published by Blue Begonia Press in 2012. Her poems have most recently appeared in Potomac Review, Prairie Schooner, and Willow Springs. Her poem "Neurosurgery Sonata" was nominated for a 2018 Pushcart Prize.