At Forty

Pattern or absence of pattern, the way a jet flies
into blankness
yet leaves a clear trail, I expect time
to reveal an underdrawing,
hatching of shadows, some rough plan
visible through another spectrum of light.
               Once, at an ophthalmologist’s office,
through an accident of mirrors, I saw the interior
of my own eye, the retina’s
veins like roots or a web, and then again
ten years later, this time in an astronomy
book—galaxies, clusters of galaxies, superclusters
of galaxies strung out
strands of a cosmic web, the redness
of that image, the light extending like roots
13 billion years in every direction.
               Michelangelo could see a figure
in a block of stone, waiting to be freed.
I want his vision when I look in a mirror,
his mathematical principles for depicting space,
his ability to translate three dimensions into stone.
First I’m in two dimensions, a photograph
glued to the glass; then three—I’m somewhere between
the glass and the background. All my houses, friends
come and gone. How would he sculpt me? How far out
of the stone have I come?

Lynn Pedersen, "At Forty" from The Nomenclature of Small Things.  Copyright © 2016 by Lynn Pedersen.  Reprinted by permission of Carnegie Mellon University Press.
Source: The Nomenclature of Small Things (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2016)
More Poems by Lynn Pedersen