Alice B. Fogel

Ellipse

what does it even mean                   to be good
to be big       to do the right thing         to not leave
the table before being excused to not leave your trash on the beach
to not speak     what you mean unless you mean
this one little kindness that transpires            despite yourself
how good is it not to see            how to see who we are
meant to be                                  it is no picnic to be left out
in the elements all night without a blanket
under all that starlessness          so maybe
it was a little wrong that we left the bottle
on purpose    buried up to its neck      in sand but it’s not our fault
that the whole ocean completely couldn’t get ahold of itself
it keeps on running its finger          along the land         and the land
winces and shrinks
a little more each day                  see
wouldn’t it be good              to be in two shapes
in two places at once or the one         between them
the way a line is maybe         a horizon or a message
even if it never reaches        where we are because of course it can’t
help but be at cross purposes with us
we get that                 because sure we want enigma           we want
to be interrupted     but what if also
we can’t stand it and we just wonder
what on earth           do people talk about anyway
do they just make things up in order to push back
like some Einsteinian             dark energy against the inward collapse
we’d probably be good   and     relatively          stay put too
if we could only be a little universe         always expanding like that

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Alice B. Fogel is the New Hampshire poet laureate. Her latest book is A Doubtful House. Interval: Poems Based on Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” won the Nicholas Schaffner Award for Music in Literature & the 2016 NH Literary Award in Poetry. Her third book, Be That Empty, was a national poetry bestseller, & she is also the author of Strange Terrain, on how to appreciate poetry without necessarily “getting” it. Nominated for Best of the Web & ten times for the Pushcart, she has been awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, & her poems have appeared in many journals & anthologies, including Best American Poetry, Spillway, Hotel Amerika, The Inflectionist, & DIAGRAM.