He fancies himself the son of the comet
but in this place, he understands
how humble among the stars
that birth would be.
He has learned to read
(one thousand one)
for the humming, the incessant buzzing
He has been invited to witness
(one thousand two)
curling on his tongue.
He tries instead to fix sensation in his head
(one thousand three)
to craft perfect phrases.
He is, after all, only the son
He touches everything he’s told is safe
(one thousand four)
after the fact.
He doesn’t know.
In that moment, he understands
J. C. Runolfson’s work has appeared in Goblin Fruit, Mythic Delirium, Strange Horizons, and Stone Telling, among others. Her Rhysling-nominated poem “Lifestory” was previously published in Ideomancer. She currently lives on the west coast of Florida at the whim of the U. S. Navy.
Her interest in the early history of photography has led her to write several poems inspired by black and white portraits. This poem is based on the famous series of photographs featuring Mark Twain in the laboratory of Nikola Tesla.