Bargain with the Speed of Light, by Patricia Percival

Bargain with the Speed of Light, by Patricia Percival


“Poems became sieves, lures
for glints of thought”

SKU: 1936715740 Category: Tags: ,

In this moving debut, Bargain with the Speed of Light, Patricia Percival creates a memorial to a beloved brother and a record of the power of the past to infuse the radiant present. In these twenty-three poems a candid and grieving voice travels backward.   Percival honors the mysteries of memory while paying tribute to the vividness of the sensuous world: “A koi, still wearing the sun’s glow / is a door / to a day I’d forgotten.” –Lee Upton, author of The Tao of Humiliation


Fishing for Words

To wear my lost brother’s shoes, 
I studied poems. At first I tried 
forms: mangled sonnets, pantoums, 
fairy tales in bumptious pentameter. 
Uncouth scribbles, offered to ghosts. 

Next, came sketches of the dim past: 
a rotten egg found long after Easter, 
Mom shearing poodles in the garage, 
John’s Davy Crockett coonskin cap. 

I wrote at 2:00 a.m., when my time 
was my own. At that hour, the pen 
seemed to beckon my dead 
like the Ouija board at Sandover. 
On good nights, karma commandeered 
the page, scribbling advice like a coach 
or a giddy guru master. 

Poems became sieves, lures 
for glints of thought: a few goldfish 
in crystal water, more often catfish, 
ugly lungfish, muddy bottom biters. 

Up alone, I waited for practice 
to yield a secret handshake 
or séance wave goodbye. 

As years passed I learned to settle 
for the company poems yield 
in hours that play out long and slim, 
like lines real fishers use.