Event Horizon

I.

The laws of physics meant nothing to me—
young girl at my desk, seventeen and full
of what I thought maturity. Already
engaged—ready to be rid of the dull
teacher with his chalk-dusted suit, the loud
ties, and droning voice—thinking of the sex
married women have: no worries about
parents, cops, or gossip. The girl whose desk
was next to mine was pregnant by October,
her disappearance from our class no shock,
just simple math—knocked up by an older
boy: how one plus one makes three. No log-
arithms needed, no cosines: the quantum
consequences expanding from the sum.


II.

Consequences expanding from the sum
of her ninety-seven years, my mother fell:
the blunt force of an object in motion
against an object at rest, the floor. Frail
frame unable to stand up to Newton's
first law in which a body continues
in velocity unless acted upon
by an external force, bones and sinew
failed, tortured like laundry in the wringer
washer she used to use. What a fellowship,
what a joy divine—I remember her singing—
leaning on the everlasting arms— to the tip
and pitch of an unbalanced load, swells and lulls
comforting her like a bloodless pulse.


III.

Comforting him like a bloodless pulse,
my daughter's car engine silences the baby
riding in the back seat. His sleepy head lolls
to one side as we chatter. It may be
that events are predetermined: the car,
the baby, the two of us. Or are they
random occurrences that execute our
fates: the yearling deer that chooses not to stay
hidden in the roadside brush, but rushes
into the path of an oncoming truck?
Either way, that event horizon pushes
mass and velocity past the realm of luck:
we are safe, the baby sleeps, but the doe,
poor deer, she lies shattered on the ground below.


IV.

Poor dear, she lay shattered on the floor below
her dining room table for hours, waiting
for someone to come. Her footsteps had been slow,
but certain, until then—that day when weighing
a mere seventy pounds (less than half of that
at which I remember her best) the floor rushed
up to blacken all the points where bones and meat-
less flesh collided with the wood. Poor judge-
ment on her part or frailty spun out to its end?
Which came first? The fall? The breaks? Can effects
precede the cause if we are able to suspend
belief in causality principle's next
moves from certain reason to sure result—
the volant object or the catapult?


V.

The volant object is catapulted—
deer by truck—struck heavily, then cart-wheeling—
landing, crushed and broken—life insulted
not by death, but by more excruciating
life--she tries to rise on four fractured legs.
The police are noncommittal on the phone:
Is no one hurt? they ask. I say, The deer, and beg
for help to end her suffering and mine—
my tears not only for the animal,
but my mother to whom I hadn't gone,
too sick to see her in that last brief fall—
my hospital far from her nursing home—
our separate singularities:
those black holes that merely living guarantees.


VI.

The black holes that merely living guarantees
will suck us in and make us disappear
into the vortex of that mediocrity
principle—where nothing about the deer,
or my mother, or my daughter and her son
is particularly interesting.
Where I am is no more special than
any other place, right? What would Occam
say? Which is the simpler theory—that in which
my mother dying without seeing me was good
or that in which her loneliness at the edge
of death hurled her, cold and unseen as a dead
star into eternity—me, her unlit moon.
struggling with what I couldn’t understand then.


VII.

I struggled with what I couldn’t understand then
about physics: how if I traveled back
in time and argued with, then killed, my grand-
father, neither mother nor I would be; that
Lambert noticed how the luminosity
intensity of light decreases
exponentially with distance as it
travels through absorbing mediums;
and how Lovelock hypothesized that the Earth
is a whole and should be regarded as
a living organism and that each
biological process stabilizes
the environment. But when I was seventeen
the laws of physics meant nothing to me