for 17P/Holmes and Eric Van
He shakes the frost off his badger-black hair,
coming aboveground in the deadening cold
so absolute, the sky is bursting to black ice,
stars snapped loose—even a comet glitters
like gunpowder, in microcosm the universe
exploded, a clockwork of collision and dust.
The volume under his arm crackles open,
pried to pages of mica, their mathematics
crosshatched with a lacquer frieze of ink
shining under starlight, each uncalculated
vacancy diagrammed around with hazard,
sloe-leaves, ash-keys, fir-cones in a strew
around his feet assimilating unnoticed to earth
that shrugged him out, now summer's last
crackerjack tinder crisps colorless underfoot.
Between planets and parabolas, he winters out.
The moon bows and hollows like his smile,
right hand against left, not playing dice.