by Stephen Roger Powers

When I learned all matter has gravity, I refused to believe.
It explained why pewter-framed London photos stayed,
and scuffed red dancing shoes far back in the closet,
antique tea kettles boxed up from house to house,
but didn’t explain the loss of hubcaps,
olive oil bottles taken by the ex,
a son across town who hasn’t called in seven years.
Searching in the basement for a glass-topped table unseen
since moving in, I find folders of yellowed French and German
essays written in college, held together with rusted staples
and words I forgot I knew, meanings long gone.
Words outlast those who wrote them.
That’s the beauty in Christmas Eve
suicides of poets, and so is listening
hard for weakening echoes of last ones whispered.
Every story we’ve made survives this broken life,
deep-rooted in grace of their own,
until their margins wear down like a statue carved in reverse,
reverting to a block of marble.
Cleaning is how I get trapped.
Barefoot on a chair, leaning on tiptoes,
dusting the top of the cabinet.
Three crystal wine goblets with hand-painted mountains
shatter on the ceramic tile floor and spread
a blanket of shards and peaks.
What am I to do but believe now?
Away down the street papers with foreign words I once typed,
accents added in pencil, sail like children
because the trash collectors are careless and gravity
doesn’t exist.


Stephen Roger Powers hasn’t missed Dolly Parton’s annual parade in Pigeon Forge since 1999. He will have to miss this year’s parade, however, because he will be in India. He is disappointed about that. His first book of poetry, The Follower’s Tale, chronicles his road trips to Dollywood, and was published by Salmon Poetry in 2009. Stephen went to Ireland last fall to promote the book, and was surprised to find a lot of Dolly Parton fans across the pond.