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Poem a Day for 5 Days – Day Five

I’ve been tagged by my friend, poet Brianna Pike, to post a poem of mine (published, early draft, loved or hated) each day for five days and each day, I’m to tag another poet to join the challenge.

Today’s poem is called “Microscopic.” It was originally published by Number One, the literary journal published by Vol State Community College here in Tennessee. This poem was an attempt at a persona poem, and at the beginning I was trying to capture the voice of a tween boy. I was sort of picturing a 1960s/70s family (think The Wonder Years) with a kid who wasn’t close to his dad. I also wanted to highlight the ideas of distance and closeness in relationships, and I did so by using the physical objects of a microscope and a telescope in the poem. Every image is re-imagined in the lens of microscope or telescope, just as the speaker re-images the father/son relationship that he knew from childhood.

 

Microscopic

While Mom and Dad
watched a man walk
on the moon, I wiped
sweat from my face and tried,
for the seventh time,
to see the atoms
in my torn-off fingernail.
It was the microscope
Dad gave me that I turned to
every time. Catching
a wasp, I placed it
beneath the lens and
thought I felt its stinger
in my eye.

Like that wasp, tonight
the stars appear
to sting, though
they are already dead.
This fear was why
I loved that microscope,
why I loved my father, even
when he didn’t see me.

On the stargazing rock,
my son takes his
turn at the eyepiece,
points of light aligning
into invented constellations:
cloud, robot, bird.
In the telescope the radiance
springs toward us. My son
takes my hand,
the distance erased.

 

 

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