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A Star Is Born in the Eagle Nebula Poem

A Star Is Born in the Eagle Nebula Poem By Marcia Southwick

They’ve finally admitted that trying to save oil-soaked
seabirds doesn’t work. You can wash them, rinse them
with a high-pressure nozzle, feed them activated charcoal
to absorb toxic chemicals, & test them for anemia, but the oil
still disrupts the microscopic alignment of feathers that creates
a kind of wet suit around the body. (Besides, it costs $600 to wash
the oil slick off a penguin & $32,000 to clean an Alaskan seabird.)
We now know that the caramel coloring in whiskey causes nightmares,
& an ingredient in beer produces hemorrhoids. Glycerol
in vodka causes anal seepage, & when girls enter puberty,
the growth of their left ventricles slows down for about a year.
Box-office receipts plummeted this week. Retail sales are sluggish.
The price of wheat rose. Soybeans sank. The Dow is up thirty points.
A man named Alan Gerry has bought Woodstock & plans
to build a theme park, a sort of combo Williamsburg-Disneyland
for graying hippies. The weather report predicts a batch of showers
preceding a cold front down on the Middle Atlantic Coast—
you aren’t missing much. Day after day at the Ford research labs
in Dearborn, Michigan, an engineer in charge of hood latches
labors, measuring the weight of a hood, calculating the resistance
of the latch, coming up with the perfect closure, the perfect snapping
sound, while the shadow of Jupiter’s moon, Io, races across cloud tops
at 10.5 miles a second, and a star is born in the Eagle Nebula.
Molecular hydrogen and dust condenses into lumps that contract
and ignite under their own gravity. In today’s paper four girls
in a photo appear to be tied, as if by invisible threads, to five
soap bubbles floating along the street against the black wall
of the Park Avenue underpass. Nothing earthshattering. The girls
are simply there. They’ve blown the bubbles & are following them
up the street. That’s the plot. A life. Any life. I turn the page
and there’s Charlie Brown. He’s saying, “Sometimes I lie awake
at night & ask, Does anyone remember me? Then a voice
comes to me out of the dark—‘Sure, Frank, we remember you.’”

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