Tom Gannon Hamilton
Nickel Iron

Recalling piglets at a sow, a score of grade four pupils,
we vied for position around a photo, framing a woman,
her upper thigh bruised black.
Transfixed by the famed image, such incomprehensible
odds, mixed misfortune and privilege
to be chosen by debris set in motion, we’d been told,
by a fourteen-billion-year-old event, still unfolding.
Discussing the Big Bang when the bell rang,
once dismissed, we dismissed the notion as irrelevant.

Yet space-time, writ-large, writes off as commonplace,
the stuff humans hold so dear: gemstones,
being mere silica, that mineral class comprising
over half earth’s crust: keen obsidian, quartz pegmatite
and our own exquisitely blown glass
are just so much fluff, a buffer for the nickel-iron core,
earth-science reckons to be quite similar
to meteorites, which, despite their mass, almost
always entirely combust after entering the atmosphere.

Over eons, our planet, on its annual orbit, has enjoyed
a rendezvous with an asteroid belt.
We watch the resulting showers from sleeping-bags,
under quilts, atop a frosty hillside, entranced for hours,
until hypothermia threatens, our host
promises hot cocoa and we repair indoors, where
he displays them: some resembling black chewing gum
wads, one specimen, cut into thin sections,
each plate, condensed calamity, a micro-mayhem.

I dreamt those interior designs: frozen Aurora Borealis,
lightning-bolt chorus line, crystalline chevron,
zig-zag Navajo blanket, then shuffled back to the sack
after emptying my bladder; a radiance arose
behind Venetian blinds, brighter than a cop helicopter
spotlight, white as the molten pellets arc-welders drop.
The ensuing split-second brought a muffled pooohmm,
as when you spit on campfire embers.
I presume it struck the riverbank or hit the river itself.