Spooky Action at a Distance
Nature shows us only the tail of the lion. But I have no doubt that the lion
belongs with it even if he cannot reveal himself all at once
- Albert Einstein
Of the blinkered gelding circling the paddock,
the greyhound's blind stagger after the hare.
Out of what might as well have been thin air,
I'd pluck a name and place an each way bet
those afternoons her father took me to the horses
and the dogs. What did I know then of the odds,
the world to come? I was Einstein's beetle
crawling the surface of the bark unaware
the branch is curved, his naturalist fondling
sightless the lion's tail. The past and future
were entangled particles. They made a world
where she will always be a girl in jodhpurs
and a riding hat just come from the stables
as the car backs down the driveway
of my earliest memory—one of my four gorgeous
cousins from up north migrated south in June,
and not a bruised, starved arm hooked to a morphine drip.
Spooky action at a distance, the physicist called it:
how bodies can act on each other outside space
and time in a way no theory can fully explain.
And so his own estranged and schizophrenic son
taking up a violin to bow at Brahms
while in a different room, on a separate continent,
our skeptic does the same. And so the twin
mall-shopping in an East Texas town who feels
pain sharp as a stake drive through his chest
as, states away, a bullet strays into his brother's heart.
Or how a moment barely lived through the first time
might swim back suddenly into the mind,
insinuate its way into the present tense.
I remember now: we were going to the hospital.
I'd slipped. My mother thought I'd cracked the hip
that today still seems to creak in its socket,
predicting rain. The car's a Chrysler
or a Hillman Hunter. Something turquoise,
boat-like and American. But I can't see anymore
who's doing the driving, or feel the hands
the doctor presses to my skin. I'm not sure now
it isn't a different sister waving as we turn
soundless out into the lane, scent of tobacco
and seat leather on the air, crows hanging
like rotted fruit from the crab apple trees,
memory fixing a silk scarf over my eyes
and spinning me three times, so that I stagger
blind about her cluttered rooms. The hounds
bound for the inside track. The gate springs
and the horse bolts from its stall, only hunger
and the hand that cracks the whip to guide it home.
And though I haven't found a way to say it yet,
my cousin's dying back into the nothing
she sprang from, earth into earth again, ash
into ash, and I don't want to write another elegy,
even if here, an ocean away from where she lies,
the air grows thick with sentiment and snow.
We must remember that this is a small star,
Einstein explains against what the heart whispers,
against what the body always seems to want.
Later, on a ship out in a storm, the deck
awash with the madness of the Atlantic,
the cabin listing to starboard and stern,
his insignificance and ours has never been
more apparent, yet all he can do is smile,
far from anyone, and well beyond caring,
and for once I envy him such indifference.
- Ciaran Berry (from Tongue: A Journal of Writing & Art)