Even that bathroom fan, the one we talked of replacing
in those years before our daughters. But the first
came home in December, and that fan was all
that would soothe her, those weeks when we rocked
and sang and paced, until our feet played our old
oak floors like the keys of a mistuned piano.
All of us sleep-dumb and lost in those hours
she’d cry inconsolable, screaming her red-faced squall
through this house that was drafty and cold.
How she longed, I’m sure, for the womb,
its weightless warmth and racket the only
two things she knew. But that fan with its chirrs and whirs,
its constant clicks and hums, must have sounded
somehow familiar, like the bloodstream’s tidal hum
or the murmured pitch and timbre of her mother’s
off-kilter heart. It’s a comfort we can never recall
but I’m sure we all must long for.
And isn’t that what physics now says, that it all shakes
down to this? We’re mixed up dark matter
and star-dust, the breath and mud of the cosmos,
so that’s where we’ll all return. Finally
soothed and calm in a womb where planets collide
and suns implode every day, as an embryonic
light just clatters and hammers along.
Britton Shurley is an Assistant Professor of English at West Kentucky Community & Technical College where he edits the journal Exit 7. He was the recipient of a 2010 Emerging Artist Award from the Kentucky Arts Council, and his poems have most recently appeared, or are forthcoming, in such journals as Southern Poetry Review, The Iron Horse Literary Review, and Valpraiso Poetry Review. Shurley’s poem in this issue takes its title from a line in Kathleen Graber’s poem “Dead Man,” found in her collection The Eternal City.