Speed of Light

I have come to the point where the closer I get
to my wife, the less I see of her. Often with our foreheads
touching, it is only her eyes. The rest is empty space.

Jupiter’s moons walk shadows across its gaseous
surface. Galileo saw them and knew from the way
the light seemed to bend, it must have been moving.

And if moving, must have sped. To prove it, he posted
two men with covered lanterns on opposite mountain peaks.
Marriage is a kind of experiment. If you think of light

as ultra-present, then you miss what existence means.
Newton’s gravitational supremacy made the motion
of heavenly bodies predictable. He strung them on a mobile

and pushed. But he was mistaken about the nature of light.
It wasn’t corpuscular but sent in waves from somewhere
into everywhere. And so are we transient through this

arrangement, if you will. We do and continue to do.
Though we stand in place, we are not the center
of this life. One decides finally which flaws are bearable

and which are not. Theories are proven and wreck
but at least we’re both peering in the same direction.
I am going blind, and just last week, for the first time

in many months, my wife slipped down the atom crusher
of a black spiral and was reborn backward into that inverse
universe. When I found her, she did not know me.

The speed of light was finally measured by a maze
of mirrors and a beam shot through a sprocket’s
rotating teeth. When the reflected source went black

Fizeau calculated based on the distance of reflection,
rate of sprocket rotation, and the measure between
each tooth: c = 3 x 108 m/s. The speed of light in 1849.

I slide past the unseen days and into nights that never
go truly dark. And still I tremble at the touch and smell
of her when we have finished and the hard breathing

lifts, part for effort and part from the vacuum of pleasure
that rips through the involuntary void. Have you ever
made a fire by blowing on a stone? Sometimes the eyes

are enough. I do not reach now but to find her reaching.
The light pours over us a slow honey of time, wave after
wave, six hundred trillion ashore each miraculous second.

Darren Morris is interested in how image and memory work together, especially now that he has been diagnosed with a retinal disease resulting in the progressive loss of his peripheral vision. His poems or short stories have been published at the following: The American Poetry Review, The Missouri Review, The Southern Review, New England Review, Raritan, Tongue: a Journal of Writing and Art, 32 Poems, The 2River View, Passages North, Blackbird, Zone 3, Memorious, Best New Poets, and many others.

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