by Christian Detisch
In Houston at your desk you draft: pyrolysis—
to transfigure carbon with heat that burns
without oxygen or fire. Altar serving as a girl
in your white plain alb, you held the douter
above the candle’s flame until black smoke
poured out. Therese of Lisieux, patron saint
of your home church, once wrote: I say very simply
what I want to say & He always understands me.
Some days you read my bad poems, asking why
the hell they seem so roundabout. So I will
be straightforward: remember telling me
about the Halloween when you dressed up
as a cloistered nun & all day stayed silent,
just to keep in character? I thought, Christ,
we’re too Catholic for our own good, meaning
that our obedience takes its form
physically: in silence, the stomach aches
each day you woke with, anxious about school.
Scrupulosity—you could not write, in terror
of the wrong word. Still at your desk, you type:
Biochar. Remediation—the words
you use to talk about your new-burnt soils,
oil-cleansed, your experiments with plants.
The only way to prove my love, writes Therese,
is by spreading flowers. & so each day
you tend your seeds & watch them sprout; you first
measure the control, then the treatment groups.
They are not blossoming. Not yet. Progress
here, you write, is found in millimeters,
the tiny changes we will make in time.
We try & try & try. Now, spread your char.
(To get to heaven, says the saint, I need not grow.)
Now, watch your furnace glow, halogen-mute.
O Love. Writing now directly, I pray:
may we, each day feasting on this black dust,
like little flowers, germinate; or not.