Heuristics, Not Facts

Two weeks before Easter, John Milton
haunts me, his big square head
popping up like a crocus,
his copy of Paradise Regained,
worn out by handling but unseen
in his blindness, thrust before me

like a dead tongue lolling. The light,
Einstein noted, moves in waves
but also composes itself
in particles. A heuristic,
he said, not a fact. A way
of thinking, not a finished thought.

Einstein should meet John Milton
in a churchyard in the Cotswold
where tourists snap digital
photos of mossy gravestones,
catching the wave. Milton would note
the timbre of Einstein’s accent

and decide from which German city
he derives. Einstein would note
the oceanic feeling embossed
in Milton’s bedrock countenance
and realize that converting him
to the terms of quantum physics

would require more energy
than a solar year produces.
Two weeks before Easter I’m sure
I believe neither that Jesus rose
nor that light makes both particles
and waves. Ecumenical

to the core, I reject history,
myth, and physics, and focus
on the next opening of the door,
on whether Milton reappears,
or Einstein, or maybe Freud stroking
his terrible pubic beard,

or Darwin come to observe
my mating or lack of mating
habits. I have to stop reading
the books that have fractured me
into prismatic colors
too distinct to ever rejoin

the plain white flow of photons
Milton lost when he lost his sight.
At least he saved himself from theses
like Newton’s, Darwin’s, and Einstein’s—
page after page darkening the world
like dusty Venetian blinds.