Bea Garth © 2015 All Rights Reserved
Across a Crevasse, My Uncle
Where a glacier has severed from itself is hard
to measure. No compass finds a crevasse, hid
beneath a snow bridge as thin as the eyelid of a god
forbid it blinks while my uncle’s on it, then in it—
in the pupil of an eye ringed by a cold blue iris
of ice, and falling, falling, like a ruckus of light
through a silent chorus of stalactites. A fissure,
a seizure, an impasse he must not trespass—
he must not see from the inside this god’s iris,
its concentric furrows, its collarette and crypts—
yes, the thin spots of the iris are called crypts—
let him not be encrypted deep in a deity’s errant eye,
where we will never find him, never solve him—
for even a god cannot see in its own eye without a mirror,
and this god’s mirror is a glacier, and cracked, and how
many years’ bad luck and for whom.
Three Blizzard Scenarios
Either he burrowed under a skin of snow
that turned out to be the arch
of the foot of the storm.
Or the storm lulled, so he went for help,
stepping through the snow-covered sky-
light of the underworld.
Or he was wind-snapped like a bedsheet
on a clothesline, then loosed, then tossed.
Later, too, his sleeping bag was found wrapped
around a pole like a seahorse, tail-grasping at eel grass,
limbless against the current. Tatsu no otoshi go
that creature’s called in Japanese—
child dropped by a dragon.
A Brief History of Risk
The Japanese say it is
a giant thrashing catfish
that stirs up earthquakes.
Hazard is from the Arabic
for dice, thrown down
in a tiny earthquake, a thrashing.
Less clear is the origin of risk—
perhaps from the Greek for soldier’s
fortune, following the Arabic
of that which God allots,
stemming from Middle Persian
for daily bread. Or maybe risk
is from Italian via Latin for cliff,
or from Greek for perils to avoid
at sea, such as a giant catfish.
Centuries of uncertainty were up-
ended suddenly, and fate rechristened
as probability, when Fermat and Pascal
reckoned the Problem of Points: how to
split the ante of a game of chance,
like every game of chance—
Give us this day our daily risk
and forgive us our shivers
as we foreclose our futures—
Jessica Goodfellow’s books are Mendeleev’s Mandala (Mayapple Press, 2015), The Insomniac’s Weather Report (Isobar Press, 2014), and the chapbook A Pilgrim’s Guide to Chaos in the Heartland (Concrete Wolf, 2006). Work has appeared in Best New Poets, Verse Daily, The Writer’s Almanac, and Motionpoems. A graduate of Caltech, she lives in Japan.
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