local_library Law of Inertia

by Rebecca Seiferle

Published in Issue No. 52 ~ September, 2001

from Bitters

We’ve all known those transfixed

a moment. The girl, so golden in fifth

grade, dulls out, bragging of being a local

photo-shop manager by faded sixteen.

More than mere accident; some moment

when time itself seems to conspire

on the self’s behalf. A harried mother

grows perceptive and poised, one semester

of English assignments, then lapses back

into a lifetime of self-depreciatory jokes–

that she could have been a “good Mexican”

with her love of blue trim and pink light switches.

Some moment when love moves beyond

its usual allotments, when the air seems

full of species of affection that no one

has yet named, when a gesture or a word seems

to reach invisibly, deeply enough to quiet

the palpitating heart, when the teacher

trembles for the student on a motorcycle,

when the murderer lies down in the mercy

of words, when the boy who was thought

to be mute steps forth and speaks.

Some halting step, all we know of miracle,

a moment so fleetingly gone, briefly

elastic that then grows brittle and snaps,

as what tried to climb up the back stairs

of heaven’s mansion falls back, caught

on the trellis, hemmed and hawed, snagged

and stunted to the gravity field, that

unforgiving inertia which we call “ourselves.”

account_box More About

Rebecca Seiferle is the Editor/Publisher of The Drunken Boat. Her third poetry collection, Bitters, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon this Fall. Poems from the collection have appeared or are forthcoming in Partisan Review, Boulevard, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, etc. Rebecca's last book, The Music We Dance To (Sheep Meadow 1999) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. The title poem won the Hemley Award from the Poetry Society of America, and another poem was published in Best American Poetry 2000. Her first book, The Ripped-Out Seam, won the Writers' Exchange Award and the Bogin Award from the Poetry Society of America. Her translation of Vallejo's Trilce was the only finalist for the 1992 PenWest Translation Award.