Luisa A. Igloria
TO THE MAD SCIENTIST, FROM HIS POET-WIFE
Dearest, today I received your letter full of complaints
because no one at work truly appreciates the thoroughness
of what they call your old-fashioned methods. It’s true, there are
corporate takeovers, even in the supposedly pure realm of science.
I have your latest catalogue of equations, rendered
in elegant script on graphing paper. I send you an image
of my palm descending on your poor, tired nape, working
down your back in expanding circles. Or how about my hands
underneath your shirt, imitating a stampede of wings?
Art can follow life. But let me tell you of my own day: departing
from my usual itinerary, I walked in the scattering rain
with a bag of groceries until I found a nice café with an awning,
where I sat amid the bright geraniums, sipping tea that tasted
surprisingly like sticky toffee. No one else was there.
The bored waitress came and sat with me for conversation.
I told her a little about you, how in your spare time
you’re building a six-storey silo with a writing loft for me
and a basement wine cellar and fire-proof lab for you. When
we move in we’ll turn the top floor into our nest and library.
She made admiring noises and tucked
her gum into a piece of foil, but wondered
how we’d manage all that housekeeping.
Patiently, I explained how the practice of your
impassioned brand of science doesn’t mean
you have a penitent ignorance of other things in life—
rock concerts, outdoor sports, ethnic food, the location
of women’s erogenous zones. I assured her you have
a healthy sexuality, though the nature of our current jobs
makes it impossible for us to live on the same continent
except for certain times of the year,
when grant-writing cycles are over and I have managed
to finish a manuscript without killing myself. We write
to each other daily about our separate but fused worlds, lit
by the same fire tinted blue like the halo of a bunsen burner.
After all these years, the empirical nature of domestic experience
has acquired a familiar aspect. You’ve aroused
the amorous skeptic in me, the hand that needs to feel
the wounded surface, the eye that wants to witness
scars heal on skin. Kissed by air, the white flesh
of the apple bruises to a pleasant brown.
A plastic ruler waved like a wand above my head raises
amusing filaments of hair. Effervescence
may be observed as amber bubbles rising clear
to the lips from a glass of Pear Bellini.
Even belief in the uncharted expanse becomes
possible because there are, at least, some things
we know. When the rain let up, I dragged my new friend
to the Rock and Fossil Museum opposite, to look at squares
of marble in the gallery: Italian griotte, mud-brown and milk-speckled; noir de sable, a soft black streaked with white hair.
A slice of jaspe ou va like a dish of peach and cream jello
quivering in warm kitchen light. From the St. Maximine quarries,
jaune ambre stippled with white lobes and pale markings of tan.
Languedoc, like day-old blood; and vert d’estour, a snowy screen
or low-pressure area. When I returned home, the sky had cleared.
I put the zucchini away and made a pot of soup. I wiped down
soapy skin after the youngest daughter’s evening bath, distributed
Stroking my thigh, I hummed myself to sleep.
And you, safely rocking in the crook of my mind, inclined
your head chastely, dreaming of uncomplicated things
like watercress, steamed rice, and crackers.
Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry
Issue 1 | June 2010 | pp 61-63