Dark Matter

posted Oct 18, 2011

The last time I saw my mother was in a parking lot,
but not the one she would die in.
Technically, she died in the hospital.
They didn't know her pelvis had been shattered,
that she was filling with her own blood,
that dark matter was both draining and drowning her.
This is a dark poem, I'm sorry.
I wanted to write a light poem about dark matter.
Something about all the dark matter that makes up the vastness
of the universe, but cannot be seen.
To be precise, dark matter is not dark at all.
It's closer to transparent.
It's everything that cannot be seen
but still exists in between what can be.
The young man who ran over my mother
said he didn't see her. I question the truth
behind this statement. Is not looking the same
as not seeing? Matter exists between everything
we see, even if we don't see it.
Perhaps we are not looking.
When I've been under the influence of certain substances
I swear I can see every molecule,
every atom, wherever I look.
My mother was not dark matter
the day the young man rolled his SUV over her.
But she is today. Sometimes I think I see her,
but then I wake up. Sometimes I sense that she exists
in the spaces that emit no light or color or radiation—
but I am no sentimentalist. It's not a spirit I feel,
it's an absence—her dark matter
that cannot be detected by any instrument,
nor seen by any eyes, not even heard.
But as hard as it is to imagine,
I feel the not being of her
as certainly as I feel the gravity
that keeps me from floating away,
or the gravity that keeps me from
writing a light poem about dark matter.

Henry Israeli is the author of Praying to the Black Cat and New Messiahs. Praying to the Black Cat won the 2009 Del Sol Poetry Prize. His poetry and translations have appeared or will shortly appear in American Poetry Review, Grand Street, Tin House, Iowa Review, Verse, Quarterly West, The Literary Review, and elsewhere. He is also the founder and publisher of Saturnalia Books.

We’ve published two more poems by Israeli: “Depraved Cogitation” and “The Garden of Earthly Delights.”