Three musings on a light echo
One night I read an article
about something called a light echo,
or an echo of light as I prefer to call it.
It happens when a nova
bursts out across the void
like a train howling through a tunnel.
It’s light illuminates
all the nearby cosmic debris –
asteroids and gaseous clouds –
and they shine in such a manner
that for astronomers
it looks as though the nova is expanding
superluminously – what a great word –
and is still expanding long after
the nova has faded out.
Even then, the light reflects
off what it has touched,
leaving a halo of dust,
an afterimage burned into the heavens.
Two weeks ago I met my friend James for lunch.
He’d just landed a cushy recording gig,
but he still lives in a shitty part of Long Beach.
He told me about a transvestite hooker
who works near his house.
He said she’s there every day.
No cops ever bother her,
probably because nobody would ever
pick her up.
I see James again.
We make small talk. He says the hooker’s still there.
He tells me he was driving home
late one night and saw her
standing under a streetlight,
fiddling with a strap on one of her pumps.
Returning later, he walked towards her.
She looked up at him,
and he handed her a bouquet of roses.
Then he got back in his car and drove home.
One weekend, still early Spring,
I finally got around to weeding my yard.
As I hacked at the roots of a young thistle
within a clump of pine needles.
Underneath lay a crow
From beneath the ragged shawl of feathers
the bones of its wing jutted out
like splayed fingers, and I watched
the maggots poke through its abdomen,
and tumble out of the bird’s mouth.
I dug a hole beneath my tangerine tree,
picked up the bird with my trowel
and lowered it slowly into the ground.
After spreading the earth back over,
I hunched there beneath the tree for a moment.
I do not pray, but I thought for it,
before returning to my work.
At the end of Spring,
the tangerines blossomed like fire.