Sally Ball
POEMS
 

In Hannover: Clairvoyance


I went in February, in the minor steady rain,
with a sick child. Leibniz's name was everywhere:
his haus, an apothek, the cookie factory.

But only one portrait, no bust or display of his inventions,
his manuscripts or voluminous correspondence.
The house is an office, unavailable.

Much of the city is as he knew it. I followed the stone streets,
crossed the river, went into the market church. My son slumped
in the stroller, too sick to mind. He held a cracker in his hand.

Leibniz traveled often in diplomatic service: Hungary, Illyria,
London, Vienna, Berlin and Paris: coaxing and interpreting,
massing essays and letters and problems for further study.

His rival, Isaac Newton, never saw the sea. In the evening,
my son falls asleep on the bench in the pink and purple pizza house.
The shouts and lights resound around his body.

Tidbits, iotas, molecules of soul. Tomorrow at Herrenhausen
I want to see the fountains-designed by Leibniz,
still operational, reliable-though can they fire their arcs

and droplets in this cold? At the hotel, my son and I
share a lumpy bed: boy tossing and poking,
mother pressed against the wall, looking at it, into it,

as if a person might appear there. Yes.
Mines, fountains, coins: they both made coins.
Leibniz robust in the Harz Mountains, getting into everything;

and Newton as master of the English mint, fixing, fixing—
Their portrait faces stamped and stamped
against my eyes: at the edge of sleep,

fluent in their pragmatic impulses, it can, I shall,
it can, I shall
, diagnose and solve, a kind of currency
that I can spend, tossing the English coin,

then the Germanic one, into the raised reflecting pool.
On either side of me a man-Leibniz's tufts of hair
mounded high and rippling down below his shoulders;

Newton straining backwards, away. Away.
Mr. Conviviality and Mr. Singleness of Purpose, fused
by a method of calculation, an obsession with utility,

utility as a radical, elegant gift—
Where does your favor fall? Which of us
will favor you? We strive for abundance, for perception.

You have a soul, an entelechy, you must do
as you are called to do. Where will you turn?

You must leave behind the regulated dream.


   
   
   

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