Upon Watching Notre Dame Burn I stood where Quasimodo rang his bells, looked through painted glass like everyone else for hundreds of years. We rode dinner boats on the Seine to see the buttresses fly, to wonder at Parisian medieval Gothic architecture, ribbed vaulting, stone. In the revolution, much was destroyed, and now, as careless democracies fall, again, a spark lights; the whole tinderbox explodes, and structures collapse into ash. It’s time for another change, but it is devastating to watch history burn.
Astrophysical Singularity “…the block of stone can't be is because it never can become was because it can't ever die or perish…” –William Faulkner, Absalom! Absalom! I am. What was before what is? Ocean: heart beats a rising tide, awareness perceives liquid glass surface, reflecting light. Sky: atmosphere runs through hurricanes and windless nights; Spark: energy creating. Earth: unfathomed particles fall, attract, force, push. It is not only because we think. It is not only because your atoms smash into mine. We are also matter and energy that is a black hole: question marks at the beginning and end, a place before language that needs marking. Maybe god is a placeholder, a __________ Remove the verb of being, remove existence: dipping below the surface. Without is, what? Without golden light, without sapphire ocean, without star strewn sky, how is poetry? But something sparks from nothing. Some new universe begins to be.
Undistinguished Miraculous Our star is middle-aged and yellow. The Milky Way galaxy, spiral and midsized, sits in the middle of the Local Group in the edge of the Virgo Supercluster, not the center of our universe, not special or even interesting, by astronomical standards. Even if you are famous today, what of the next thousand years? The next million? The body turned creator pushes new life out into the universe. That baby is just as miraculous as every other baby, two hundred fifty-five born every minute, three hundred fifty-three thousand born every day. Our ordinariness is our bond. We were created, moving against entropy, and we have only a flash of time to make a life a light.
Katherine D. Perry is a Professor of English at Perimeter College of Georgia State University. Her poetry is published in many journals, and her first volume, Long Alabama Summer, was released in December 2017. She also co-founded the GSU Prison Education Project, which teaches courses in prisons.
This selection was selected by editors Laura Lee Washburn and Morgan O.H. McCune.
One thought on “Three Poems by Katherine D. Perry”
I love a poem that pokes and prods my philosophical muscles first thing in the morning. And here I am blessed to find three! Lyrical yet serious, devoid of pretension and approachable yet unafraid of erudition, and one titled “Undistinguished Miraculous” as if to remind me how quite lovely and distinguished I find each of these poems as I read them a second time. The last three lines of the third poem will stay with me for a long time. Thanks!