TWO Poems

by Brooke Matson

“The Quail, the Roosterfish, and the Rock Ponder Tomatoes” by  Rebecca Pyle

“The Quail, the Roosterfish, and the Rock Ponder Tomatoes” by Rebecca Pyle


Metaphors of Mass Destruction

1. Cancer:

the typist’s fingers miss a key
on the invite

taking care to bend the brads
she hand-delivers
the manila

upon receipt the president
launches a missile

2. Fission:

her grandmother’s necklace snaps
at the party
freshwater pearls



under the sink
down heat shafts

look     you’ll never find them all
besides      the string is broken

3. Grief:

a fingertip traces the rim
of an empty wine glass
until it


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
crying, Stop.

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—
severed you

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.

iv. Hiroshima

Think of a lit match—
how its head vanishes.

v. Fallout

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.