“Critical Mass” by Ruth Bavetta

Ruth Bavetta


for Albert Einstein

A friend of mine says she is losing bone mass,
twenty-seven percent of her is suitcased away.
“Gone forever,” she tells me,
to the winds of mother earth,
to swirl and be swirled, dust above the pyramids,
about the plains, above the churning seas,
to become part of the pillages, the battles,
the pogroms and avalanches, part of the cacophony
of congresses and the world’s brazen symphonies,

part even of the tepid water of my bath,
wherein I lie, wishing that I could float forever,
under the protection of its amniotic embrace.
I’d like to pull the water over me,
a warm and soothing blanket
to keep away the noisy fingers of the world.
But I can’t hide, the world will always find me
and I will always find the world.

My friend loses mass, I gain it.
As if it were the golden vapor
rising from a bowl of steaming emeralds,
I breathe it in, absorb it as a fish
absorbs the singing waters.
I enlarge, amplify, extend,
incorporate the overflow.

I absorb the murder weapons, the Rembrandts,
the common doilies, keys and maps,
unto the last, the cusp, the deus ex lawnmower.
I take in all this, expand and swell,
live all the lives that touch my own.
Oh, sorrowful world, is there no end?

from Rattle #7, Summer 1997


Ruth Bavetta: “I was a visual artist for years, until I found I also wanted images that could be painted with words. I wanted to use words, as I used images, to help me make sense of my life. Now, I’ve become convinced that neither words nor images will suffice, because there is no sense-making. There is only what is and what has been. It’s enough to know I am human, separate and mortal, and that’s where I find my poems.” (web)

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