Spooky Action at a Distance: an Elegy

— Richard Jackson

Franz Wright 1953–2015

That woman, olive army jacket loose over her Salvation Army
skirt, has coaxed her shopping cart towards whatever life
the morning might bring. A few blackbirds are still trying
to deny the dawn. A dragonfly stops mid-air to imagine
a life beyond this one, then darts away as if to forget it.
Isn’t that bee trying to sip from the soda can a bit pretentious?
The woman’s dreams are bottomless. How does the woodpecker
know where to strike next? How does one distant atom know
what the other is doing? How does the wind that has come
such a long way know which windows to rattle? The stars have
already dissolved. Our dreams are locked under eyelids.
The distant mountains appear like hedges. The pale moon is
humbled. Birds celebrate the fact of air. Franz would know that
God sits around the fire under the overpass with the other migrant
workers. Their souls are made of blood. Anything that’s anything
seems out of reach. If only he could supply their papers. If only
the day delivered on its promises. Eternity’s mirror reflects us all.
It doesn’t matter that the skywriter’s message is already tattered.
A truck jackknifes. A train totters off the tracks. The woman knows
more than we do about pilgrimage. The workers know which
prayers are real and which aren’t. The long narrow streaks of cloud
stretch towards the horizon as if some giant hand had reached
up from the earth and scratched the sky trying to get out.

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