who believe in the senses,
I was an accountant,
Permitted to touch
the leaf of a thistle,
work of a spider.
To ponder the Hubble’s recordings.
It did not matter
if I believed in
the party of particle or of wave,
as I carried no weapon.
It did not matter if I believed.
I weighed ashes,
cities that glittered like rubies,
on the scales I was given,
in units of fear and amazement.
I wrote the word it, the word is.
I entered the debt that is owed to the real.
spine-covered leaf, soft-bodied spider,
one curious tentacle back toward the hand of the diver
that in such black ink
I set down your flammable colors.
from Ledger (Knopf, 2020); first appeared in The Times Literary Supplement. Used by permission of the author, all rights reserved.