Blackbird an online journal of literature and the arts Spring 2008 Vol. 7 No. 1



Edward Teller’s Leg
     for Lois and Cliff Schroeder

The moon rose over Delphi’s plundered hush,
darkness’s theatrical curve, your sheltered,
luminous skin, delicate, sensuous air.
Look, there, Teller whispered, and one star
among astonishments of stars moved west
to east. Sputnik, he said, as if he had launched it
himself. And our breathing fell away down
the mountain. We leaned back,

                                                  the tinkling sky
chandeliered with neurons. All the night before,
we had nosed past Piraeus, then through the cyclopean
slice of the Corinth Canal. Teller tattooed the deck
above us. Morning, he wouldn’t show his notepad,
its glimpsed black tangles, said it would take only
a few bombs to widen the channel. Where
would the people go? Lois asked.

                                                   We’d move them
for a few days, he said. They could have
a holiday. Please watch Edward, she would say,
his wife with the lovely name I always
have to look up, a crease you could tell was
already permanent between her brows.
We sat near the rail and watched Edward levitate
in the transparent water, a maimed starfish,

heart attack, stroke. Always, though, he paddled
back, hopped up the clanging ladder, and Lois
handed the dripping Teller his pretanned leg. Always
he came out of the water with that look
of troubled satisfaction, that look that said,
I have figured it out, and they will have to listen.

So much gone—what we ate, how we made love
in those narrow bunks. But Teller remains, out
on the bow of the Cavafy—no, that can’t be right—,
out on the bow of the Whatever, watching
the moon drop away toward Stavros, knowing
we drop, too, though just enough to maintain
our arc over the earth, falling and not falling,
falling and not falling at all.  

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