Worlds in Collision
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.
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.