Two Poems

by Mary Peelen



Despite persistent elements
of planetary suicide

like pesticides and
leaf blowers at seven A.M.,

the cells of the honeycomb
remain perfectly hexagonal.

Jacaranda blooms
festoon the Mission in June

and the ironwoods
branch logarithmically.

A spider web captures prey
in a glory of silken radii.

God is what you believe,
that’s the only definition.

It doesn’t mean everything
you fear will come to pass.

Amidst daily catastrophe
miracles arise mathematically,

coordinates on a star map
beyond the grip of insanity.




Sunday Morning

In the last shower of summer days,
I stand at the window

fixing distances in the air,
claiming the limits of my knowledge.

Scrub jays tryst in the fig tree,
hummingbirds spar in flashes of neon armor.

The Fuji apple tree espaliered to the fence
at the back of the garden

fruits miraculously in the city fog.
Long exhausted of flowery white,

leafed branches curve into
ten dimensions so discrete

we’d miss them entirely
if not for the math.

I put my faith in algebra.
And Wallace Stevens, of course,

his quantum heresies, his dominion,
coffee and oranges,

birds defying gravity,
theory contained in a curved glass jar.

MARY PEELEN’S first full-length collection, Quantum Heresies, won the 2018 Kithara Book Prize and is forthcoming from Glass Lyre Press in January 2019. Her poetry has appeared in Harvard Divinity Bulletin, The Massachusetts Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Bennington Review, Antioch Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Poetry Daily, Poetry Review (UK), New American Writing, and elsewhere. She received an MFA from San Francisco State University and an MDiv from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Photo: “Espalier” by jpmatth