Gina D. / Donne / Cleopatra
The lightning split the oak into two
burnt halves – an open book, the book
of its life. Revealed: a puzzle
of char and knots. Sam says
he sees the face of his wife
in there. She only died
a month ago, unexpectedly
— he’d been wondering how
she’ll linger here and now
he knows. I tell you
I’ve walked past that tree, for me
it’s random shapes in blasted wood.
Not Elvis. Not Jesus. Nor,
I’m sorry, Mrs. Sam Delatorre.
Do two world-views
mean two worlds?
I don’t know.
That’s what cosmologists are for.
I’m just finishing writing my essay
on John Donne, poet, bibbler, and diddler
(it seems there wasn’t a wine or a wench
his happy tongue didn’t hope to appreciate), and,
later, Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral: his sermons
are eloquent masterpieces of piety.
And so there are two John Donnes,
in one. Like you. Yes you,
Ms. Energy / Ms. Matter. You,
Mr. Neocortex / Mr. Brain Stem. You,
and me. We can’t be different from
the particles and waves we’re in
and of. It wasn’t an essay on Donne’s poetry
as much as an essay on physics.
Her life was as full as mine,
as knowledgable. The army of names
the Eskimaux have for snow…?
She had as many for herbal remedies
and the scents of those kinds of candles they sell
at shops that carry pamphlets of hexes.
Nobody understood why we were dating.
We were “so different.” Well some of my guy friends
got it. And also, she was “sweet,” she had “a good heart.”
“Do you think we remember our past lives?”
Cleopatra was one. Somehow
it’s never an unknown illiterate milkmaid.
“Really: I have her dreams!”
I joked: “You should date a cosmologist.”
And she said — she was serious — “Oh I already have
more make-up than I can use.”
We were both right. You see?
We were both right;
only in different worlds.