Best of the Net 2012  

Reasons We Should Keep Burning

Not only for the boat, but also
                  for the water beneath it swirling with oil,
                                    for the tiny stove, and the convertible bed.

Not only for the bridge that stretches
                  across the marsh, but also for the path
                                    that disappears when the tide comes in,

and the tiny snails left when it recedes.
                  You are studying insects, and I
                                    am studying the way the human body

heals itself: contusion, stretched tendon. Cicatrix.
                  Thousands of years ago the articular bone
                                    of our jaws shrank and became our ears.

Say bioluminescence, I hear sunset, ocean,
. You explain it is the chemical
                                    reaction that causes fireflies to light. They can't

help it. I do not need to know how our lungs
                  work. It hurts to breathe but we keep doing it
                                    anyway. Beneath a scab will always be fresh

skin. Let astronomers explain black holes
                  and the reason for the stars. Let marine biologists
                                    analyze anemone and the shape of the shoreline.

Erosion is inarguable but people don't stop
                  building houses. I will not tell you how
                                    our jaws hinge together, only that I will

open mine again and again to say
                  your name. And you should not tell
                                    me that fireflies have compound eyes

that allow them to see fast-moving objects,
                  only that their crepuscular lights will guide us
                                    when there are no other beams. Not only

for our lungs, our jaws, our tendons, our toes.
                  Not only for the stays, the buoys, the attempt
                                    to ballast. Not only because we can't help it.

- Hannah Oberman-Breindel (from Boxcar Poetry Review)