When the New Elements Were First Distilled, Their Mass and Properties Could Still Astonish Their Makers.
Cold phosphorescent gauze over Baltimore after hours.
Office building in shape of a fist not letting go.
Some days a black bead not larger than an almond troubles.
"Nor is the soul made any smaller," wrote Descartes
from his unnamed address in Leiden the glass-hard summer
of 1646, "if we cut off some part of the body." Yet he
the soul did have a size and it might be tested.
Descartes reasoned an animal could not feel
that numinous thing pain--a variety of self-awareness--like
we cannot feel, higher up the chain of sensation,
those emotions of god that account for a whole cosmos.
The idea was a very male one. His wife's dog he nailed
by its four paws to a table, and cut it whimpering along the chest to
show his students the unaffected action of the heart.
"Nothing but the noises of some small springs
that were being deranged," wrote one visitor to a school
where Descartes' methods were practiced, and indeed
they were deranged and there were noises to prove it.
A knuckle would fit in the heart's valve and be sucked as it
The type of dog is not recorded--is it different if it was small
or as large as a Rottweiler? Pale lights of an aquarium
raise hackles on the skin of the Chesapeake Bay.
The steel wool of the lilac shrubs quivers
on a rooftop garden alive with bees, and white tents below
are shackled by their several points to the harbor,
exposed and strange. A conclusion is an object
you can't lift, or see round the back of. You should not have made
If you had to make it, you should not have put it there.