Lee Peterson

Laws of Motion
by Lee Peterson

Then came I entire to this moment
process and light
to discover the country our waking
breaking open

—Muriel Rukeyser, from “Breaking Open”

The train runs
along the tracks—freight
after freight. Fluid. Speed. The way
my car rides the road
beside the train yard and high wire
fence—a body
lifted by water, by wave,
on its back. The car like that.
The asphalt curve.
The locomotive.
We lock into synch, two machines.
But soon we’ll break. Peel off. New life,
old life. Like that.
People here I’ve known
and never known, who would not
care to know me. People who have
loved my children. Whose children
I have loved. People here who have
hated my children. And I have hated
theirs. Though hate is
a strong word. Just say. Hearts have
quit beating—it’s everything
I despise. And have been lucky not
to live. Mine. Not mine. Mine. The deep lock on
the past—past which was or wasn’t—the eyelids
soldered either way. I married one
who came from, broke from this.
Like that. I have lived here, inside their lives.
Whatever I do. Their bodies.
Wherever I go. And they live in mine.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 22, Issue 4.

Lee PetersonLee Peterson is an American poet and educator. She is the author of Rooms and Fields: Dramatic Monologues from the War in Bosnia (The Kent State University Press), which won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize. She was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize and was a finalist in the 2018 River Styx International Poetry Contest. A founding director of the Writing Commons at Penn State Altoona, Peterson also teaches in the college’s English and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies programs.

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