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Zenos Paradox, or My Mothers Forsythia

by Joyce Peseroff

By half and half and half and half again,
I can approach but never touch

her bristling-yellow-paintbrush-flowing-green
forsythia in April as it drops

flower for leaf; or how “Scarlet Begonias”
harmonized, a soundtrack to my grief,

weeks after she died. If I describe the crack
in Garcia’s voice as a man breaking honeycomb

from a box of tranquilized bees, smudgy
embers in the smoker, can you hear it?

Between radiance and pitch, an element’s
half-life could be a millisecond or an era.

Kiss the sweet that drips from open cells—
apple, almond, peach-perfumed, whatever

blossoming orchard gorged the dozing hive—
half a moment, and I’ll be satisfied.


Joyce Peseroff’s three books of poems are Mortal Education (Carnegie-Mellon, 2000), The Hardness Scale (Alice James Books, 1977, and Carnegie-Mellon’s Classic Contemporaries series, 2000), and A Dog in the Lifeboat (Cornell, 1991). She teaches in the Creative Writing program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. (5/03)

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