February 3, 2016

Kimberly G. Jackson

ENTANGLEMENT

Entangled particles act as if they are one, even when widely separated: anything that affects one, instantaneously affects the other in exactly the same way. Physicists say it happens all the time. A particle of you, right now, could be entangled with a particle of someone you just passed in the street.
—Invisibilia Radio Show

The young woman on the train beside me laughs every so often at something she sees on her smartphone. A quiet laugh, but not private: breathy, and really tickled—brimming with something to share. I want to ask What is it? Wish her face would turn, and open, and she’d say. But the tablet balanced on her tawny knee informs her of the Cold War’s dates (1945–89), while I, shivering in the AC, remember changing dollars for black-market Ostmarks outside the Pergamon. As the skyline grows I wonder: Does it swell inside her as it does in me, every time, even now? She laughs that laugh again, and I want to tell her: Someday the person you’re going to marry will think my god, I love the way she laughs. Someday your children’s faces will light up when they hear it—it will make them feel that everything’s all right. But of course I can’t, and don’t, and at the station she is lost beneath the clocks.

 

* * *

Crowdflow down Fifth Avenue in January wind. Cartier’s, Tiffany’s, then her body’s dark diagonal. Half-wrapped in a shawl, she rocks. Mutters. Bare head/thin shirt/paper cup/so few coins. The stream of coats legs boots arcs, makes a space. I step in. Place a bill. She sees a 5. Are you sure? she says. You might need this money for something. When I kneel, her hand is leathery. God is with you, I say, though I never believed in him much. She laughs: That’s all I’ve got left. What’s your name? I tell her. Ask for hers. She tells me, but then the muttering returns. I watch it rock her, draw her in, as the evening snow falls down in searing sheets. When I see a cab, I take it.

 

* * *

The slam is starting soon and somebody’s taking way too long in the bathroom. The line fidgets. Finally she emerges—halting, then swift—a bare white face with wide eyes almost lashless, a rush of long skirt down the stairs. Later, behind the mic, she reads from a page, her voice clear but just at the threshold of sound. Her words fall, oblique and pearlescent, roll and tumble across the wooden stage until it’s covered with a sheen like the inside of skin. The applause is a puzzled sine wave, but one skinny guy in the back is on his feet hollering, and I shout for her, too, praying that the current of our gratitude can reach her, and wondering what it is her long sleeves cover.

 

* * *

In bed I watch my belly rise and fall. Somewhere, too, their bodies lie or stretch, in pain or joy or longing I can’t know. But as my cells dissolve to molecules and my atoms to their quarks, I feel the pull of what is mine and theirs in one. The darkness widens, curves through space-time. Together in our separate orbits, we spin.

 

from Rattle #50, Winter 2015

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Kimberly G. Jackson: “I began writing in my 40s, when I already had a family and a busy (non-poetic!) job. Almost all my writing happens in little scraps of mentally free time: on the train, in the shower, while I’m cleaning the kitchen. Every time I figure out the right way to say something, it’s an intense pleasure; poetry keeps me company beneath the surface of everyday.” (website)