— narrow ways, the tightest of squeezes, expect white water
— Luis Alberto Urrea
In the experiment, an electron simultaneously
passes through two slits in a gold screen.
Repeated and repeated, dunes form, petrify,
morph to horizons for the brain’s circuits
to visit, mine, arrange, scratch trails through.
Squeezed between red rock wall and canyon
free fall, I kindle her passing scent in the dawn
light; within this strait-of-many-hued-waters,
I choose to be open-gate-to-flowered-meadows,
each passing thought a silk thread anchored
to eroding rock. Passing fossilized crinoids
and nautili, we string, poke, balance, rappel,
inch our way through layers and layers
and layers; posit each prickly pear spine
hooks a slightly different angle of light.
The doctor incises your right femoral artery and snakes
a plastic tube to the vertebral artery in your brain stem.
While your fingers practice tying slim beauty knots,
you are told to hold your breath as radioactive
iodine warms your neck before stopping at the blood
clot in your hypothalamus. You hear the X-ray shutter
click open, close; hear the doctor and nurse praise
A Beautiful Mind. You remain words scribbled on a chart.
Within this bosque of medicine, can you become silent-
waters-cutting-path-of-no-resistance? Sporadically awake
for discrete minutes during the next three days,
your mind snaps pictures of your groin streaking
yellow and purple towards your knee; you know irises
bloom within the cultivated strip of soil flanking the edge
of the deck you built the year the summer monsoon
thundered into October; you stood on the porch, ricochet
balls of hail settling at your feet as a lightning bolt struck
the neighbor’s home-built shed and left veins of charred
plywood alongside tines of magnesium light and crack
and ozone scored into rivulets of thought. A nurse gently
shakes you awake, then presses her left hand into your groin,
retracts the catheter with a flick of her right; mind rejiggers,
carves new sensations into your museum of life.
Michael G. Smith is a chemist. His poetry has been published in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Cider Press Review, Nimrod, Sin Fronteras, and other journals.