Back to Issue Twenty.

introduction to quantum theory



There are only so many parallel universes
that concern us.     In one, he isn’t dead.

In another, you drink light with your hands
all winter. There is a universe in which no one is lying

emptied in the street as the gas station burns, a universe
in which our mothers haven’t learned to wrap

their bones in each small grief they’ve found.
There is a universe in which there is no difference

between the past and the ground. Another
where the oceans pull the moon.      And so on.

This is an incomplete list.  It has been abridged
for your comfort.       I could tell you

about the many universes in which bad things
happen to people other than the people

you love. Yes, in another life, it’s someone else’s sister
who climbs to the roof that night. In another life,

the boys rise darkly from the asphalt to choke
the engines of cruisers, and no one gives birth

chained to a hospital bed, and no one’s child washes
blue, ashore. Sure. You can have these worlds.

You can warm them in your hands at night. But know:
by signing, you agree also to be responsible for the universe

where the oceans glow red, the universe where
what we call shadow is pulsing with the musk

of hooves, and especially the one in which
humans exist, but only in the nightmares

of small children. Will you hold that one too?
The version of the story that never learned

to consider sound? and the one where sound
is only the opposite of metal? and the one

where the sound of metal is never enough
to quiet the dead?


Franny Choi is the author of the collection Floating, Brilliant, Gone (Write Bloody Publishing, 2014) and the chapbook Death by Sex Machine (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017). She has received awards and fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, Kundiman, and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. She is an MFA candidate at the University of Michigan, a Project VOICE teaching artist, and a member of the Dark Noise Collective.

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