Back to Issue Twelve.

THE IMPOSSIBLE PROBLEM

BY LEAH FALK

 

Kurt Godel, 1930

Neither proved nor disproved: 

neither seed heads dragged by the wind nor husks 
fallen hard from their ripening;  

neither the porcelain glazed and fired nor flaked 
and dried, a scrounged skin, in its barrel; 

neither the river that cooled the clay nor the hand 
that printed it, pressing its double;  

neither the watery kick that gives a girl  
a great whale’s weightlessness—issue 
             as if from its sensitive cask, furious salt wine—

nor the stone stomach. Last meal 
of anvils. Full lungs that, if lobbed across 

a hot city yard, summer death mask, would burst 
and relieve a boy’s fever. 

Neither of these: witch or anchor, 
                             Socrates or angel. 

Only sorrowing through a tunnel of sleep. 
A train of days, just flying. 

An incomplete arithmetic: the problem 
like a child’s painting of three trees. Two,  

bushy spheres of leaves with fat trunks
guiding them toward both ground 

and sky. The third, the third— 
head only. And someone’s hurried blue 

scrubbed between the land the tree had grown from 
and the clouds it moved lately among.



Falk 12

Leah Falk is a poet who makes texts for the page and for performance. Her work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, FIELD, Smartish Pace, and other journals, and on stage at the University of British Columbia, NoExit Performance in Indianapolis, and at the School of Music at the University of Michigan. She lives in New York.

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