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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.




Sonya Taaffe's short fiction and poetry can be found in the collections Ghost Signs (Aqueduct Press), A Mayse-Bikhl (Papaveria Press), Postcards from the Province of Hyphens (Prime Books), and Singing Innocence and Experience (Prime Books), and in various anthologies including The Humanity of Monsters, Genius Loci: Tales of the Spirit of Place, and Dreams from the Witch House: Female Voices of Lovecraftian Horror. She holds master's degrees in Classics from Brandeis and Yale and once named a Kuiper belt object. She lives in Somerville with her husband and two cats.
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