Dark Energy by Liam Day
Runoff drips from the porch’s overhang
into puddles collecting in hollows on the top step.
The ripples’ reflections are cast on the railing’s
white-painted slats by a sun so bright
shadows acquire depth easily confused for heft.
An airplane’s wash has the sky to dissipate, but,
puddles the size of saucers, waves have two,
maybe three perfect rings before reaching the extent
of each minor depression in the warped wood.
We naively believed there are no limits –
to life, dreams, talent – but the universe’s end
was foreseen in collapse, the pull of matter
too strong to overcome. Yet, even the galactic specks
we glimpse through intently-focused glass
now flee from us faster than ever. It was only
in the third act, then, we realized the reason
we weren’t assigned a soliloquy. We were never
still or spotlit long enough to find the mark, but
instead shuffled on and off like players in a massive,
nine-hour, repertory production whose dramatis personae
lists more characters and actors to play them
than patrons who attended, are attending or
will attend the not unsurprisingly limited run.
Still, we recite our handful of lines with
cringe-inducing brio, rattling the seats
in the small theater’s back row. It’s the best we can do.
Besides, our parents, though they know there
are, in fact, limits, have known, much longer
than we have, our precise ones, are there.
They’ll grow tired, sneak out at intermission
for a bite at the Chili’s they spied down the street
on their way into the theater, but by then
your wife’ll have arrived. She’s tired too,
in a different way. For her you go back on,
but the few lines you had you’ve delivered and
all there is now is to linger upstage, watch
other players enter and exit, puddles catch
the runoff’s drip, the universe expand
through the wrong end of a telescope.
Liam Day is a graduate of the Bread Loaf School of English. He lives in Boston with his wife, Nicole. His work has appeared previously in Beginnings and Slow Trains.