WARNER BROTHERS PHYSICS
It is the fear of death that quickens us
To call and say, I was just thinking of you.
But it isn’t you we were thinking of exactly.
It is the moment when the not-you, ever again,
Will open its gigantic hole beneath us
That we’ve suddenly recognized.
As if gravity were dependent on
The acknowledgement of gravity,
As if the Warner Brothers cartoons give us
A truer portrait of our psyches than Freud,
A truer physics than Isaac Newton,
Wile E. Coyote about to Doppler toward the center of the earth,
We hang suspended.
We see that hole. We don’t want to fall.
So when you are surprised to hear me call,
Out of breath, to say, I thought of you,
Know that I am reinventing the physics of your existence.
Know that I mean, I want you to live.
Author’s Comment: I’ve always been fascinated by the inventions of the Acme Corporation, which feel like shortcuts to our deepest fears and needs. Death seems to me to be something Wile E. Coyote might choose to whip out at any moment, a practical joke that is neither practical nor a joke. This poem is my gift to anyone I love, who might—I refuse to say “will”—die. It’s my advance warning, so they can at least get in that “uh-oh,” before that long, dark drop.
Bio: Mimi Herman is the author of The Art of Learning, and has published fiction and poetry in Shenandoah, Crab Orchard Review, The Hollins Critic and other journals. Mimi holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College and has been a writer-in-residence at the Hermitage Artist Retreat and the Vermont Studio Center. She does her own carpentry and plumbing, and can milk a cow and a goat, though not at the same time. You can find her at http://www.mimiherman.com.
Such a fantastic read that it involves multiple re-reads 🙂
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Exquisitely true. Thanks, Mimi.
Mimi, This is my favorite of the whole issue. Thanks for writing such a truthful yet humorous poem. These are rare.
I get told weekly by friends on Facebook who’ve lost friends/family to “tell your [insert relation] you love them.” Rings true and necessary enough, but still makes me crazy with the cliche. Thank you for telling it fresh!