Poetry - Issue 23 | November 2015

Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat


Visiting the Outer Space Exhibit in Bonn on New Year’s Day 2015

What should we be without the help of that which does not exist? Paul Valéry

There was a bed that folded out of what appeared
to be an upright piano
but on closer look was a control panel,

which reminded me of the concert
I’d attended the evening before, where
the drum resembled a giant spool of thread,

reverberating in a coppery, Jovian hue,
Brahms’s Hungarian Dance #5 wheeling in its wild trajectory,

and I asked myself why planets are round, not
triangular, squared-off, or pronged.

Is it aerodynamic? Thusly they turn without obstacle?
Is there a planet shaped like a pancake somewhere,
as the ancients presumed?

There was a photo of Valentina Tereshkova
at her vanity, the Soviet cosmonaut
sitting in a party dress; she deserves a party,

a bucket of moondust flung at her feet,
a glass of champagne sparkling with small explosions.

For the kids, there was a display
of fictional aliens, and blotchy, far-away photos of UFOs.

There was a wooden sphere you could slip into, notched
on the outside with charts and graphs.

The usher had a kind face, the face
of a man born to be a shepherd or grandfather.
He used a staff to prop open the trap door,

guiding the pilgrims in. I lined up for a turn inside,
and was nearly there when my husband came by.

We removed our shoes and ducked into the dark
ball whose inside blinked
with minuscule stars, making it cold

and warm at the same time, a cosy infinity,
and for all I know the universe is strung with lights
exactly like this

or some other dazzling
pattern of the imagination, which buoys us
with what does not exist.

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About the author

Sarah J. Sloat lives in Germany.

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