"Wissahickon Schist"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
July 6 2010 7:05 AM

"Wissahickon Schist"

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Karl Kirchwey  read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.
.

What did you think the color of learning was,
if not mica and hornblende flashing in a long-settled gray?

You look for a plane along which it will cleave
to admit the self, but it is you who are divided

always between resolution and doubt,
having read A small amount of fissile material

was smuggled across, remembering certain islands
long ago, the windblown passages between,

wild thyme on the offshore breeze from Lemnos
or the white slash of a coral runway at Tinian.

You open a book to the stories of changing forms
and see the guts of a mole exploded on the lawn,

a red-tailed hawk balanced, nonchalant, on the railing,
and the day's light cut on such a deep bias,

one February afternoon, with a thousand starlings
aligned in the branches of the silver pendant linden,

that it seems the whole earth will tip into a chasm of dark.
You write A secret lapis, shedding ... then stop.

Into what? The iridescent chatter of those birds,
the shoulder of the wind, any horizontal thing.

Alone in the silence, you write ... into crystalline shells,
as the walls rise up around you with their faint glitter.

.

TODAY IN SLATE

Jurisprudence

Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your children is perfectly legal. 

Ken Burns on Why Teddy Roosevelt Would Never Get Elected in 2014

Cops Briefly Detain Django Unchained Actress Because They Thought She Was a Prostitute

Minimalist Cocktail Posters Make Mixing Drinks a Cinch

How the Apple Watch Will Annoy Us

A glowing screen attached to someone else’s wrist is shinier than all but the blingiest of jewels.

Books

Rainbow Parties and Sex Bracelets

Where teenage sex rumors come from—and why they’re bad for parents and kids.

Books

You Had to Be There

What we can learn from things that used to be funny.

Legendary Critic Greil Marcus Measures and Maps Rock History Through 10 Unlikely Songs

Catfish Creator Nev Schulman’s Book Is Just Like Him: Self-Deluded and Completely Infectious

Behold
Sept. 12 2014 5:54 PM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 14 2014 2:37 PM When Abuse Is Not Abuse Don’t expect Adrian Peterson to go to prison. In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 12 2014 5:54 PM Olive Garden Has Been Committing a Culinary Crime Against Humanity
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 13 2014 8:38 AM “You’re More Than Just a Number” Goucher College goes transcript-free in admissions.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 12 2014 4:05 PM Life as an NFL Wife: “He's the Star. Keep Him Happy.”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 12 2014 5:55 PM “Do You Know What Porn Is?” Conversations with Dahlia Lithwick’s 11-year-old son.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 14 2014 7:10 PM Watch Michael Winslow Perform Every Part of “Whole Lotta Love” With Just His Voice
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 12 2014 3:53 PM We Need to Pass Legislation on Artificial Intelligence Early and Often
  Health & Science
New Scientist
Sept. 14 2014 8:38 AM Scientific Misconduct Should Be a Crime It’s as bad as fraud or theft, only potentially more dangerous.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 12 2014 4:36 PM “There’s No Tolerance for That” Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh say they don’t abide domestic abuse. So why do the Seahawks and 49ers have a combined six players accused of violence against women?