by Jesse DeLong



constants      of physics—       the speed
                             of light,         
                                          the absol-
        of gravitational    attraction, the weak

& the strong forces
                   of our interactions. If we change
any of these by the tiniest of amounts,


life-like would’ve ever            emerged: no plants, no      

atmospheres, no solids,

not even the elements except hydrogen & helium,
but maybe
                       not even those—which is to say, of course, no

you & I. Please, don’t go. Hold—here—

my hand with the scarred knuckle, remember. The irises
in the light, see—stop it, stop it—hold, here,

the small green lizard who puffs his red-fanned

throat as he waddles by. Think: ninety-nine
percent of all creatures that’ve ever

existed died        
without sons or daughters.

Not you, no, not now.
Everyone one of our mothers lived.



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