Leave your country and all its weather
behind; forget the sun, the tent of sky,
the wind in vast cotillions. Choose me
instead, in this dim place under a shelter
of speculation and tin. Here we speak
the argot of twins and I know there are
creatures only you see and answers
I am not ashamed of. Cast beyond
the planets, even Pluto has a moon.
They spin with locked tides, always
faced together, married to darkness;
so stay, my consort, my lovely undoing.
Centuries coupled, as if halves of one, we meant
a constancy of shale, adamantine, and clutched
each other, though our mantle flowed apart.
Our hold splintered and slipped, I tremored
to release you, heaving rivers and boulders,
cracking homes like melons. As Caledonia
and Appalachia were a single range before
a mercy of ocean poured between, so you
and I, riven, will always bear the bands
of silt and shell where once we fit together.
Admit our sun is common, a Milky Way twin
to a hundred million more. Even its end
ordinary, no stellar explosion, it will snap
hydrogen to helium then cool to a dense core.
You squint skyward, still wanting the corona
of a bright god, the unconquered sun that chose us
to spin around. But there is no need for tributes
of maize and falcon wings while we burn
the oil of light left eons ago. You may ratify
the droughts and downpours, assign blame
for melting ice and rising seas, but I can count
more kinds of hammers than turtles;
we need instinct, not law. The dogs of Pompeii
howled for days, even snakes slithered
from Helice. In the Gallatin Range, the bears
left the forest. At night, a slice of mountain shook
down, sleepers drowned in their beds, soaked
in waves off the lake. When the ground stilled,
the bears returned covered with mud. Hush.
Listen to our internal combustion rumble.
There is more elegance in turning photon
to electron to motion. Let us trade the old sun
for the new one, sustain ourselves, wet and green,
within this delicate spindle of axis and orbit.
Credit: Robin Beth Schaer, “Aphelion,” “Earthquake,” and “Endangerment Finding,” from Shipbreaking, published by Anhinga Press. Copyright © 2015 by Robin Beth Schaer. Reprinted with the permission of the author.
Robin Beth Schaer is the author of the recent collection Shipbreaking, from which these poems are reprinted. She was educated at Colgate University and Columbia University and has received fellowships from Yaddo, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Saltonstall Foundation, and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She teaches writing in New York City, and worked as a deckhand aboard the Tall Ship Bounty, a 180-foot full-rigged ship lost in Hurricane Sandy. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, the fiction writer Anthony Tognazzini, and their son, Faro.