2012: William Winfield Wright – My Soul, the Size of a Bee

Poetry selection from the 2012 issue.

My Soul, the Size of a Bee
By William Winfield Wright

Physics is the study of spaces between,
cliffs if we’re talking about bridges,

planets if we’re interested in travel,
the vacuum above a wing,

the applications of friction
and mathematics,

crashing one thing into another
to measure light or affect orbit,

how in this dimension everything falls
more slowly than we expected.

I want to believe in a kind of permanence,
the constant C of speed,

that bodies at rest and bodies
in motion remain bodies

however they miss and collide,
whether they stay or move.

I want to believe that the universe
is a giant snapshot of itself

developing in the scant light
and beautiful from any angle.

We could name nothing but stars
for the rest of our lives and still

hardly get past the satellites,
stare and stare into an endless sky.

Physiology is the study of limbs and organs,
the upside-down camera in our eyes,

the fine mesh of our skin,
all this water, these levers and pulleys.

I can wish that there were a fifth humor
to leak and gather,

something to reduce with leeches,
a condition to note in cold hands and wet coughs,

a way to explain this personality and persistence,
the tendency, say, to want paid vacations

or the inclination to change one’s mind for love,
to be full of blood and phlegm and bile and hope.

When I try to calm my breath in games of chase and
monster, it races and rattles like my heart.

When I drink small amounts of red wine, I can’t help
but think I’m extending my life for something.

I hear my father’s voice in my own,
see bumps on my arm like those my mother wore.

Metaphysics is the measure of this desire,
the belief that we can learn from others,

the mix-up between what something has and what it is,
how far we can move from an idea before it veers off.

I’ve learned how to shoot at people from the movies,
repeatedly if we want them to go away,

once just to get their attention.
I know the right things to yell to prove I am serious.

“I’ve had enough.” “What else is there to say?”
I wish you were dead,” but the kind of dead

where you could see me walking around without you.
I have not learned how to love others in the same way.

In that we stumble and improvise,
speak to each other in sounds.

Perhaps it is enough to be regularly nearby
like with horses and fish.

My soul, the size of a bee, isn’t stuck here
on vacation, yearning to stumble

to the next flower and then back to the hive,
doesn’t look forward to the time

when we are all gigantic but spread out,
does not long for release and bright sun.

Instead in this world of weather and cars,
in uncertainty and optimism and regret, I want it

to fly off but not without me,
to land and touch a thousand things.

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