poem for an engineer

    This poem has no intention of changing the world
    or even moving it one iota. For that you need
    a more exact science: aeronautics, civil engineering.
    You need plenty of expertise, money, management,
    countless nights redrafting plans in the lonely grove
    of your cubicle. While you calculate angles, calibrate
    cross-shafts and supporting structures, your wife
    has fallen away into slumber; your dog, beguiled by
    the slow wheeling of the moon on its careless axis.

    This is serious work. What do poems know about
    the imperatives of balance and stress, the calculus
    of load-bearing metres? This one spent its childhood
    dissecting sonnets, while you grazed, in the class
    next door, on vast plains of lines and numbers.
    While you struggled with compass and slide rule,
    it was dividing dactyls from iambs, dreaming of
    wild rivers, airborne castles, towers kissing sky.

    Not for you, whose shoulder is to the hard stone
    of this life, whose idea of sleep is one long dull
    ache in the back of the neck you cannot reach.
    But you are almost done. You check the figures
    one last time, as the poem watches, innumerate
    and invisible. As you finish for the night, gifting
    schematics to the unmagical gloom; straight
    lines on paper that will one day become a bridge,
    a skyscraper, a lighter-than-air miracle.

02 October 2001   00:03 hours
following a train of thought on the mrt { } edison working to communicate with the next world