Poem of the Week | September 21, 2010

This week we are proud to feature a poem from our current issue (TMR 33:2), Benjamin Grossberg’s “The Space Traveler and Wandering.” Benjamin Grossberg’s books are Underwater Lengths in a Single Breath (Ashland Poetry Press, 2007) and Sweet Core Orchard (University of Tampa, 2009). A chapbook, The Auctioneer Bangs His Gavel, was published by Kent State in 2006. His poems have appeared in New England Review, North American Review, Southwest Review, and the Pushcart Prize anthology. He teaches at the University of Hartford.

Author’s note: “The right mode is, ultimately, a key to the utter(ing) self: it allows you to express more of yourself than you realized existed[…] For me the ‘space traveler’ was this kind of discovery. Looking back three years on, I realize I was at an impasse. But I knew after I wrote the first ‘space traveler’ poem that I had stumbled on something larger than a single text, a new mode that seemed to expand what I cold bring to the page. It again became possible — and for a month, almost easy — to surprise myself exploring the same old concerns.”

The Space Traveler and Wandering

Roadless vehicle: means that every
instance is a juncture, that every
path branches always-and in three
dimensions. This is the burden
of untethering wholly: all planets, all
places have equal claim, anywhere
become everywhere. Once I put
roots down on a world in the most
literal sense: slid with my index finger
row after row of seeds into nearly
granulated soil: on all fours, palms
and knees roughening, darkening.
I crawled the field’s length beneath
that planet’s triple suns, saw at equal
spacing the nearly translucent cones
burst from the ground. And soon
how they uncoiled into spears.
There was no reason for the gladness
this occasioned in my heart, no cause
to adore the line after line of them,
that my hand seemed to raise them
higher and higher from the dirt, each
a marionette made to pull itself
up to full height. I think of them now,
looking out a window of this ship:
panning the scattering of stars,
themselves like seeds indexed into
the black loam of space. There was
a field that was my home, a world
I understood in the long silences
of its dawns. Now there’s this:
stars thick and old as fire. In all
their history, none have cracked
open, no golden thread of roots
unwinding beneath them.