PYTHAGORAS AND ARISTOTLE WATCH THE MASTS
OF SHIPS CLEAR THE HORIZON
When you first learned the world was round, even
the globe you held in your small hands and spun
to see the countries’ mismatched shapes and colors blur
seemed vastly improbable. Outside your window, anyone
could tell the land was flat, far as the Midwest eye could see.
And the same on a beach where water hissed
from a finished wave, or striding a valley hemmed
by soft hills. Climb the side of a ridge and look below: flat
as a pancake. But stand breathless on a true peak, and circle
carefully, eyes wide. How interesting … because what do 360
degrees suggest but round after all, and you at the axis
of the gyroscope, another childhood mystery object. You try
to imagine a bird’s eye view, great raptor wings pushing
gravity down. What if the osprey flew a straight line, had strength
not to stop even once—would it inscribe the world’s circumference?
A writer speaks of her terror, views the new page
as an expanse of arctic white. How is it we open
the door of a warm room, time and again, set forth
on foot into the chill to stand at this brink, shivering
with a familiar mixture of hope and dread.
Annie Stenzel was born in Illinois, but has lived on both coasts of the U.S. and on other continents at various times in her life. Her book-length collection is The First Home Air After Absence (Big Table Publishing, 2017). Her poems appear in print and online journals in the U.S. and the U.K., from Ambit to Willawaw Journal with stops at Chestnut Review, Gargoyle, Negative Capability Press, On the Seawall, Psaltery & Lyre, SWWIM, Stirring, The Ekphrastic Review, and The Lake, among others. A poetry editor for the online journals Right Hand Pointing and West Trestle Review, she currently lives within sight of the San Francisco Bay. For more, see anniestenzel[dot]com.