First Law of Thermodynamics and Other Poems


First Law of Thermodynamics

35 Million Years ago: A rare bolide (a comet- or asteroid-like object) hits what is now the lower tip of the Delmarva Peninsula, creating a 55-mile-wide crater. This crater influences the shape of the region’s rivers and determines the eventual location of the Chesapeake Bay.
Bay History, Chesapeake Bay Program Online

If energy is never created or destroyed,
that makes this dagger of ocean—freshwater sifting
with salt, oysters blinking in their beds, my chilled body
standing on its shore with pockets full of empty shells—
a 35-million-year-old portrait of collision. Can’t I still hear
the rush of the comet, the land a steep gasp
as it took the cold, rough light & stone in?
Each time a hurricane hits the coast, the cliffs flurry
the bay with fossils, like the pecten shell I carried
in my bag until I sliced my thumb on its hard edge.
Little scallop gone forever, I hold the bright shape
of your body in my palm. Giant rush of ice that might
have destroyed this world, atoms of mine
came from you. When I can’t sleep—the stars constant,
roaring through their constellations—I list everyone that I love
who I can afford to leave. & I don’t believe in ghosts
except for those that are obvious—horseshoe crabs
that have kept their armored shells through disasters of deep time,
this ache of beach splintered by water, these human hands
that hold a hunger unique among all animals.

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