Worlds in Collision

by Bryan D. Dietrich

And then to us, as even to the best of worlds,

there came another. Under the churling sconces

of a sky scott full of what looked like anything

but itself, beneath whirling wind screws of light none

of us had half a mind to understand, we stood

looking up, watching it come the way the Tlingit

must have watched the clipper ships of white men sink

into their lives.

                      I’d never seen the northern lights—

never will, now—but this is how I’d been told to

see. The waves of what must have been a battle

between one magnetic sheaf and another,

the polar, bipolar war of magnum roiling

even then beneath our feet and played out up there

above us, the shower of unholy, beastly

simple weather, and only the slightest shift

of mantle…None of this seemed so odd as that disc

(one not even our last best dreamers dreamed existed)

suddenly usurping the moon.

                                          Sister shadow,

brother bark, wanderer in the rime-dark deep of night.

Kennings. Metaphors. The language of having nothing

else to say. As that new body approached, becoming

as it came less heavenly than even Trinity,

its cloud, words finally failed us and we ran. Stumbling

between goodbyes, between cargo and cult, ourselves

and what we’d cobbled into a craft, we found nothing—

not stone knives or interstellar drives, not Verdi

or Vermeer, all temperature Cheer, gold-vermilion

gush, orange Crush, flies, ryes, stale moon pies—nothing

fit the orbit of that ark like what little we saved

of our lives.


Bryan D. Dietrich is the author of six books of poems and a book-length study on comics. He is also co-editor of an anthology of superhero poetry and president of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Bryan has published poems in The New Yorker, The Nation, Poetry, Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, The Paris Review, Harvard Review, Yale Review, Shenandoah, and many other journals. He has won The Paris Review Prize, a "Discovery"/The Nation Award, a Writers at Work Fellowship, and has been nominated for both the Pushcart and the Pulitzer. Professor of English at Newman University, Bryan lives in Wichita, Kansas with his wife, Gina, and their son, Nick.