…you will not expect any intimacy…
nor will you reproach me in any way…
She’s the physicist whose cabbage soup
And lint brush gave Einstein the time to solve
Time and also for Elsa and Miss S,
His stray eurekas in the dark, principles
He illuminated with apple-falling grasp
While she waited up with the clock like one
Of those observers on railroad platforms.
For her, the breakthrough came when he begged her
To meet him by train in the Alps before
They wed, overlooking her limp, her plain face,
His laughter fey in bed as his frizzy crown.
But now he pulled away and she preferred
The monotonous lecture of a child’s breathing
To his conception of where she stood
In his world, he an eponym for brilliance,
The new standard but also a barrier
Like the speed of light, what all things crawl
Relative to, she a dull lamp burning
Long into the night, proving him wrong
Again and again, though her discovery
Superfluous, the usual suffering.
David Moolten is a physician who lives, writes and practices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His most recent book, Primitive Mood, won the T.S. Eliot Prize from Truman State (2009).