Monday, May 28, 2007

Elegance

by Linda Bierds


Not Archimedes, naked and tufted, still wet from his bath,
screaming “Eureka” through the streets of Syracuse,
but the insight that propelled him, that sudded proof,
that buoyant, blushed epiphany. Elegance
they call it, the long-boned mathematicians,

when facts align like alloys on a balance scale.

For the slender Archimedes, the scale tipped
eleven stones. Yet once within the tub’s cool grip
several stones departed, skipped suddenly away,
soundlessly, invisibly, as the soul’s clear micro-ounce

is said to skip across death’s placid water.

Then, as he sank, the weight he seemed to lose emerged:
The bathtub’s water overflowed in perfect shares of
Archimedes. And so, from principles of buoyancy:

Elegence. And a running man.

Someone draped him in a linen sheet,
then watched him disappear
within a stone, linen-tinted passageway—a melded shape

across the stairs, the rubbled walls, where lantern smoke
cast its rubbled soot. Twenty centuries would pass

before a taper maker, weighted

with years of weightless ash, would blend
the sootless, smokeless candle, and cleanse the walls
where Archimedes walked. His secret

lay with feasting—a feed for bees

so balanced in its elements of sharp and sweet,
of oil and air, that the buoyant, tufted bodies
churned out from their chambered furnaces a kind
of waxy catalyst—a flawless stitch from mass to light.

Honey. Lentils. Two yellow wines. Two mackerel skins.

Elegant, that formula, that sudden click of harmony
when facts aligned, and matter, from the bee or from
the bath, lost not itself but simply its perimeter.
Elegant, that sudden shift beyond the eye, that soundless
click: clear stone across some greater clarity.

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