On Nature

by Fade Manley


Look, Parmenides, we finally know
what is and isn't, when it began and ended,
by and large where it was and where it will be—
give it up. I'm not sorry. τὸ ἐόν and τὸ μὴ ἐόν
were headaches, approximations, abstractions,
never as vivid as the axle whirling endlessly between the hubs.

What is won't be. Here's an atom, mostly made of what isn't,
and the bits that are go flying. Here's light,
streaming endlessly from the sun,
and the sun's daughters will all some day wink out, one by one,
swelling red and shrinking black,
pinprick maidens devouring the remains of the world.

Your mares, white-eyed wise creatures, hooves to the road,
will never fly. We've measured out the breastbone for Pegasus
and declared him not λόγος but δόξα:
you and Hesiod and all those piping poets, you and your muses
didn't know. We know now what your limits were.
Seat a titan on the edge of Tartarus, and at the borders, squinting,
they'll see us waving from the other side, beyond what was.

Parmenides, Parmenides, what's this to a rock or tree,
what's this that you say to me, millennia on and gone?
Ungenerated and indestructible is nothing, nothing.
You should've listened to the poets who assigned births even to the gods.

We circled the globe, and found in the data
no Styx, no Tartarus; it's not even a sphere! We've checked the planets,
we've shot past the sun, and not an orbit is perfect, eternal, or still.
Even the stars fall from their places:
your signs in the skies point elsewhere now.

It's not you. It's me. It's true. I'm sure it's true.
I drove all night on roads I'd never seen,
and never once picked up a hitchhiker, never once gave the wheel
to a veiled girl with her hand raised
to greet Δίκη at the gates.

They never came for me. They're not true, they're not true, they're not so.

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Fade Manley lives in Austin with a spouse, a housemate, and slightly too many pets. She's currently studying ancient languages and literature; she takes breaks from Ancient Greek morphology by writing fiction set in less historical places.

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