This week’s poem leaps from the particle research to John Milton, blind and poor, dictating his poems to his daughters, to “What happens when my imagination / opens up inside someone else’s body.” Stay with this poem, as its leaps make a kind of sense and make lines like “Ridiculous / to say we should have known better” reverberate in more than one way.

Colin Cheney is the author of “Here Be Monsters” (University of Georgia Press, 2010), a National Poetry Series selection. His essays, articles, and poems have appeared in many magazines, and he is a visiting assistant professor at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies at the Maine College of Art.

Environmental Impact Statement

By Colin Cheney

Not even light escapes a frozen star,

our first name, and flawed, for what tonight

we might open beneath the mountains,

crash testing fragments of the instant after

creation to glimpse a grammar,

a language I won’t understand.

Blind, Milton had his daughters read to him

in languages they didn’t speak,

gave them the lines he’d night-gardened

all morning, the imagined mechanics

of Lucifer’s crow-dive into the dead’s river.

After taking dictation, his daughters

left the house to sell, volume

by volume, his library for groceries, scents.

What happens when my imagination

opens up inside someone else’s body-

The city’s morning light an environmental

impact statement for when she doesn’t

come home last night. I make coffee

and don’t look at my phone.

Walk the Ramble through the affairs

of starlings someone unleashed in the garden,

the new world. Ridiculous

to say we should have known better.

Each bird’s a painting of some dark thing.

Even if we tear a black hole in the mountains

it’d die pretty quick, probably.

And Eden is just an old man’s imagination

surrounded by bored daughters

with tastes for the fine things of this world.

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is poet who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2016 Colin Cheney. It appeared originally in Blackbird in 2016 and appears here by permission of the author. For an archive of all the poems that have appeared in this column, go to

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