While Reading Scientific American

Mixed Media Art by Kate Dean

and Amnesty International Between Calls at the Help Hotline, My Co-worker Asks Me Why There’s No Therapists-Without-Borders


Kate Gleason


The mother of the suicide bomber

who entered a temple with his own idea of heaven


strapped to his body will never come to see us,

nor the woman who carried her fetus nearly full term


till it stopped moving at a check point,

nor the man whose young daughter was forced to be a soldier


and “bush wife” to some rebel commander — stories

beyond anything talking could cure.


Scientists say every galaxy has its black hole.

They’re working in concert with a thousand telescopes


to photograph what they visualize as a squashed teardrop.


Grief has its own clock, a face under hands.


We know that time and space

create an intricate fabric, dented where things


rest heaviest. Where nothing is strongest,

a little funnel forms.


What do we know of use to the parents of those children?


A singularity

produces unfathomable gravity.


What void would that eight-year-old’s father hear

in our taught response:


“How do you feel about that? Can you say a little more?”


This poem previously appeared in Rattle.


Kate Gleason is the author of a full-length collection of poetry, Measuring the Dark and two chapbooks of poetry. Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry, Verse Daily, Green Mountains Review and elsewhere. She has received writing fellowships from the NEA, the Vermont Studio Center, and the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Formerly the editor of Peregrine literary magazine and a poet in the schools, Kate currently leads writing workshops, retreats, and seminars.

Kate Dean is working on an MFA in Studio Art and fixing up an old house. She is the Executive Director of Arts Alive!, based in Keene, New Hampshire. When she has a minute, she writes poetry and sings close-harmony acappella with a small ensemble.