Jeffrey Thomson

Imaginary Numbers

i²= -1
As in light coming distances
in the humming blankness
from stars already shuttered
and collapsed, as in the volume
of water not in a bottle, the area
of the shadow of a missing limb.
The way winter light through
glass warms nothing. The speed
at which, on the rain-slick
leaf-scattered Kittaning Pike,
the accident doesn’t happen,
the car doesn’t slew and swing
out against the oncoming traffic,
the horns don’t blare, glass
doesn’t turn to a geometry
of pain and so she returns home
after work with the dusk
already clambering up the house,
the porch light out, haphazard
mail and the message light
flashing down the hall.
It could be that her child,
gone to stay with his father,
has called to say he loves her,
or that her husband has left her
for another man, a rodeo clown,
and she won’t know whether
to be enraged or amused.
Or perhaps it’s her dentist
confirming her appointment
as her cats twine between
her legs, demanding to be fed.
If possibility is the square
of experience, what can she say
of this day, its unknown grief
haunting the house, painting
the walls with its brushwork
of headlight and shadow? Would
she wish to take it to the root,
the absolute i on the margins
of a tertiary world? Outside,
the rain begins again and
slaps the grass, the trees’
bare limbs scaffolding
the exponential dark.
She snaps on the light
and sees herself repeated
in the mirror, at once doubled
and inexplicably exhausted.

Jeffrey Thomson
Imaginary Numbers is from