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Wednesday, December 02, 2015


by Gil Hoy

Climate change demonstrations are expected to take place worldwide in the lead up to the Paris summit [File: AP via ALJAZEERA]

In third grade, I often trekked to my best friend's home
up the street, a backpack of books
strapped to my small back.

We flipped through pages and pages then,
in a quiet little study in a corner of his red brick house.
The glow from the fireplace flames
illuminated the russet wood on cold winter days---
like a solemn Friends meeting house.

My friend’s mother sometimes would set out
milk and cookies for us to eat.

They looked like planets of dirt and black rocks
circling two white stars.  She was always so kind
and so warm. The earth is a sky blue marble
with white swirls from the vantage point

of the sterile rock of the white moon,
so pretty and elegant.

The better the book, the more you didn’t
want it to end.  You start with chapter one.

If there were twenty, by the time you got to ten or so,
you were tormented by the prospect of finishing.
And the pages went by so fast then, like a speeding bus
you run after but miss, and you knew that the end
was coming, like the last bite of a favorite meal.

It occurred to me on one of those quiet
unspeaking afternoons that my death
was much like my book, and that I was on chapter four.

I wasn’t deeply troubled because there was still
so far to go. But the words and the pages
seemed different then, each page a whole day nearer,
as what remained of the unread pages
grew thinner and thinner.

Today, I am sixty years old. My angst is different now.
I read about ISIS and Paris murders, Trump’s fantasies,
Ben Carson's portrayal of his younger years, and Rubio’s
foreign policy. I listen to a grayer noble black President
talk about protecting the homeland, gun control, climate change
and medical care for the poor.

I hear grievous political candidates say
what they think you want to hear because
it’s politically expedient, rather than do the country’s business.

You grow tired of hearing grown men lie,
and you come to doubt our institutions and the law---
no polish will remove that stain.

I wonder now if the world can survive its woes
and whether the grandchildren of my grandchildren
will even get here. Perhaps nuclear war

with just too many missiles and countries involved
for the world ever to recover, or a pretty colorful solar storm
much more powerful than the one in 1859.

Maybe global warming, disobedient armies
of self-preserving computers, or runaway asteroids
exploding oceans, like ruinous bombs raining down
on villages of the weak. I worry that the world

is like my old third grade book, now more worn
but still true, and I have no idea what chapter
the world may be on.

What does it mean that the Milky Way
is just one of billions of galaxies?  What immortal blacksmith
or powerful imagination created infinite space?

Is the universe dying? Can we read its obituary in the stars?
Given the big bang, like an explosion of planets
from the head of a ruderal species,
futures of finite and infinite duration are both possible
depending upon physical properties and the expansion rate.

Some scientists say that the universe is flat like a silver dollar
and will expand forever, contingent on its shape
and the role dark energy plays as the universe ages.

Otherwise, the big rip tears the earth away,
like a murderous albino spider on a white flower carrying away a dead moth,
or a lion’s fearsome symmetry in a death spiral with a spent zebra.

The ephemeral perfection of goldilocks planet has always been
that it is not too hot and not too cold, with just
the right amount of water.

When I got to my friend’s home on that rainy afternoon,
I learned that his mother had died that morning.

The house was so cold and so dark. I didn’t know what to do.
But I knew there was no time to waste.

Had she played a part in stopping her heart from beating at such
an early age?  How many oceans and mountains had she never seen?
And in what directions? What had I to do with being at her red brick house,
at that time and on that day? I didn’t know.

But I filled up my backpack and started the long trudge
back home.  For I knew there was no time to waste.

Gil Hoy is a Boston trial lawyer, writer and poet. He studied poetry at Boston University, while receiving a BA in Philosophy and Political Science. Gil received an MA in Government from Georgetown University and a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law. He served as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman for four terms. His poetry has appeared most recently in Third Wednesday, The Write Room, The Eclectic Muse, Clark Street Review and TheNewVerse.News.