Love and Celestial Mechanics

Richard Monaco

For David and Marlys

I strain in her void as she abhors her vacuum:
Alone in our orbits, linking up again
In worldless distances where no breath breathes,
Where even lovers know no up or down,
We keep preserved in insulated systems
(Here in a bounded but infinite bed)
With life support a measure of what’s dying.

Sealed up like astronauts within,
Peering out through screens and tinted ports
With flashing half-truths on our instruments:
Electric groping of thoughts or hands
Over flesh or the unending stillness
And vast simplicity of space or love.

Above the world and still bound to it
By the affinities of moving bodies,
Newtonian in passion we spin on …
God help us, at times we go outside,
Float loose from communications nets;
Spacefish hung in the free fall of the heart,
Weightless together in the narrow bed;

Sail motionless where clocks are stilled
Where no thought ticks, no body beats,
No measured whirring from the nightstand,
Nothing to mark or count. Exposed
Without direction between worlds,
Exhaled, without a word for yesterday

Or air for talk; full as empty sky
With all there is and in our hush
No artifice of lover, tangent,
Angle, attitude of flight …
A lifetime of momentum pulls us down
To earth, to merciless gravity again,
Flopping wingless on a dull bed.

We strain to rise but don’t lift off.
The serious flesh is fallen.
My back hurts and you’re travel-sore.
Reseal the openings, secure the systems;
We gasp for breath, we’re back inside,
God help us, we remember everything.