It is a chill metallic passion even on hot,
humid July nights. For it seems the stars
are substantially cold as I gaze, eye to
polished eye, entwined in black night clothes,
(the wrinkled sheets of pure space-time, so
remote from diurnal time). There, everything
appears to stray from its sidereal gait so
I must transport myself far, either by sight
or imagination, when needing to know;
“Is it the same passion that fuses flesh,
births the stars, makes us prodigals of
vision: this light, our motion, the cosmic
wind; all that energy and ardor, both up
and around . . . outside my open window,
which also swirls inside, allows us some
share of each other’s gravity?”
The sun mobilizes us by day and then
I think of warmer lovers, the sweetness of
flowers and perfume, real arms and legs
ready for embrace. Human shapes may make
a comfortable fit as when eyes are pressed
in shadow and light is eclipsed behind
a shoulder or in the soft valley between
breasts. But tonight I drowse against
my telescope, cheek to cold cheek,
supported by three sturdy feet in rubber
slippers, while her flawless glass eye
attempts to show me everything. She
may be a bit of an exhibitionist, a freak,
a wanton, but I am thankful for her when
flesh runs dry, and we bathe together
in this milky river above our heads.
—Richard Pflum (Marion County)
This poem is from Outloud: New and Selected Poems (Chatter House Press, 2012).
Richard Pflum, author of three full-length books of poetry, was born on July 2, 1932, in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is also the author of three chapbooks and is included in more than a half-a-dozen anthologies. Pflum now lives on the east side of Indianapolis, by himself in a dark old house (old family home) in a sinister part of the city. Here, he has been mugged once on his front porch and is haunted by frequent but friendly ghosts.
Poetry Prompt: Your Relationship to a STEM Tool
Explore your relationship with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) tool. It might be your ruler, compass, computer, calculator, pedometer, binoculars, etc. How does this tool help you know the world better? How does it limit your perspective? You might want to use personification as Richard Pflum does in his poem.
Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem and prompt every day in April. Indiana Poet Laureate Shari Wagner selected these poems and wrote the prompts.