after Katherine Larson,                                           "Water Clocks"

        a stillness so replete
it resembles something
            like intimacy

        he reads, & catches
himself catching
            the woman

        down the table from him
in the corner of his eye,
            her gaze

        on the history split before her
the way an atom might be

        quiet to the ear yet dense
with potential, portent,
            the truths

        of the granular universe
no more or less true
            than anything

        else we cannot actually observe,
her focus so distilled there is
            no trace

        of what is breathing, lucid
& slow in the space between
            the human

        & its penned remnant,
between the sought-for
            & the fought-for,

        pitiless vein he is
mining on his own page

        it flows with resonance & rage,
with rhyme & reason & necessity
            as ruthless

        as the atom of a sudden
diverted from its long assignations
            by theory

        that such audacity might be enacted,
even when the only proof is all
            it undoes,

        lives dissolved beneath
an earth no longer earth
            where words

        forget the spacious air, the strict
physics of the vocal, like Larson's

        oneiric beneath Aegean sun, &
Hiroshima, Nagasaki, peripheries of knowing
            we inhabit

        the moment we seek such knowing,
mute enormity that swamps us
            until empathy

        dissolves into piety, then pity,
then finally that private sigh of relief
            that we are

        here, drinking soft Taiwanese oolong
above a memoir of nuclear horror,
            or wielding

        this fine Japanese pen
over a page not yet abandoned,

        that swirl us together
in the need to be more deeply

        even though our eyes will never
meet, our hands touch, our blood
            commingle —

         some histories live us
he catches her from the corner of his eye,
            knows only

        the flush of her skin within
such disarray — a fusion of griefs —
            then knows,
        for one untenable moment,
a breathless altitude — savage intimacy —
            exultation —