A Sense of Empty

Imagine stuffing a planet in your pocket, what you would
find about time or the time you didn’t have a pocket;
also, the vast empty of what we can’t keep in mind

like this morning’s snow, as if it could reflect a sense
of space, lost time, or anything except what’s cobbled
from what happens in fraught moments, like the time

you stole cereal for Emmy from the Benson General Store,
which was also a kind of empty but not what gets
described with equations as space dimensions.

I read a book once that said human history could be told
as a sequence of invented drinks: beer, wine, whiskey, tea,
coffee, and Coke—Coke being the greatest deviation

from nature, but you can’t tell where to draw the line
between natural or what’s made up, like the quark nobody’s
seen with a naked eye or how theft could make sense.

Beer was discovered when barley was left in a vat
catching water, somebody tasting it with that empty-pocket
feeling like a mother in a row of Benson General cereal.

Who can put it all together—the sympathetic, the synthetic,
the analytic, and the peculiar way things evolve in time
and space, the links between drinks, as beer to Coke.

You probably read books, too, and, like me, doubt that
a single morality exists. You know space does, but you’re
not sure where, in the end, it empties, which is what you feel

when you’re off in a winter snow by yourself and you think
you know snow, common as your coat pocket—then it melts
and you realize you’re not sure you know anything at all.

Copyright © 2019 Lynne Potts. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Winter 2019.