Stone Telling

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I do not know your ἀλφάβητος

by Saira Ali

I do not know your ἀλφάβητος
honey-voiced poet singing across centuries
to your beloved, songs preserved by desert dust.
No sea-foamed goddess speeds to my aid
in a chariot drawn by sparrows,
(Whoever heard of such a thing anyway?
Birds make an inefficient engine and the ratio
of lift to payload is all wrong)
my nest of cable and spark too much
like the heat and roar of the forge,
so I'll carve apart her name
reassemble it in tidy tables and sums:
Angle of attack and electric potential together with orbital radius
yield the order of magnitude of the impulse function to set sail
at this angle of inclination, from which I calibrate what torque and
angular momentum will let me place my fingerprints in the heavens.
Your letters, yes, but my machinations, so
why do I envy you, speaking so intimately to a goddess
I have no need for?

Saira Ali grew up in the deep south of the United States and has still not acclimatized to New England winters. She is both an engineer and a poet, and rejects false dichotomies in all forms. Her poetry has been published in Strange Horizons and Mythic Delirium, and she co-edited In Other Words, a chapbook to benefit Con or Bust. You can find her on Twitter at @kitabiyatpress.

Photography: adapted from Atlantic Coast at Night, by NASA.