you are in the diode archives winter 2010



Supernova remnant Cassiopeia A

One night the angels came
for her, rustling their wings
in the starlight. She was sleeping.
They grasped her arms and ankles,
lifting her away as though
she weighed nothing at all.
The next morning her feet ached
and her daughter gave her comfort.
That night again they took her,
carrying her past the atmosphere.
She told them she wanted to see
Cassiopeia and they brought
her to the mountains of creation,
dipping her hands and toes in the dust.
She woke dreaming of beauty
but could not walk. Her shoulders
ached and for the first time
she feared. Again in the darkness
the angels found her, hiding
in the bathroom, holding her arms
around her heart. They sang
and she fell asleep. This time
she remembered nothing but
could not smile. In the morning
she found feathers in the bed.
When night came she lay awake
in the dark, pinching her skin,
imagining grief as they gathered
around her. She did not speak
as they pulled her close, pressing
their fingers against her eyes,
brushing their lips to her hair.
She wept and did not look back.
The angels laughed, pretending
happiness, but she felt how they
trembled, holding her too tightly
for hours. That morning she discarded
fear to explain love to her daughter
but by nightfall she knew the angels
had gone and she braided her hair
with sorrow. And when she died
she dreamed of angels crying
in the explosion, scattering
their light in the infinite dark.


Star streams of the Splinter galaxy

My mother thinks the dead can hear us,
swears they drift around, walking through
walls and photographs. And I’ve heard
the house creak at odd times but never
believed in ghosts, never felt the remnant
of a person touch me. I’ve told her this,
told her about the faint trails that surround
the Splinter galaxy, glowing like the demented
arms of a long-dead spirit.

When my grandfather died, they would not
let me see him. I hated the acerbic drama
of the house, the stopped clocks. My father’s
refusal to ever speak of it. No one wept.
Fifteen years later I remember memorizing
constellations all summer, shivering for hours
in the darkened grass. I prayed for a sign,
for a shooting star to wish on, but fell asleep
too soon, never learning the details of his cancer,
how death is a surprise even when you expect it.

The streams around the Splinter galaxy are believed
to be remnants, debris from an interstellar collision
so long gone no one remembers what happened.
Odd how beautiful the photo looks, the soft streams
of one galaxy haunting another, the brilliant edge
of a spiral tucked between as though the eternal
darkness was not at all heavy. And I’ve asked her
what it was like, that night, when everything stopped,
wanting to believe my grandfather knew the universe
could be beautiful, but she says it’s too long ago
to remember for certain.  


Christine Klocek-Lim received the 2009 Ellen La Forge Memorial Prize in poetry and was a finalist in Nimrod’s 2006 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. Her chapbook, How to photograph the heart, is available from The Lives You Touch Publications, and another, The book of small treasures, is available from Seven Kitchens Press. Her poems have appeared in Nimrod, The Pedestal Magazine, Poets and Artists (O&S), the anthology Riffing on Strings: Creative Writing Inspired by String Theory, and elsewhere.