(Click here for pdf of poem.)

deer –   sleek  supple light
in the woods –  hesitates

then leaps taking the eye
into an ecology of movement

a breathing heartbeat liquid
form pouring elegant
between trees


the bullet
a kind of eye

wherever it
enters  makes
a  center

an apparent horizon
where light separates

in the middle of the candle


I am a body of those
who love me
they live inside

the deer in the woods of me
brings me  curious  into contact
and materialization
the gift of that

to read  and  be read   shot  through
with a knowing     the world  goes in
mysterious   make of it what you will


My mother advised me to use a spade
to divide my clump of bleeding hearts

I buried the blade of my narrowest shovel
into the center of the clutch of roots

the cupped scoop cut across   not down
clipped their length
my crude spring
transplantation of hearts  from the front
to the backyard  dependent on so many factors

The difference between a spade and a shovel:
the angle of the fall from the handle


(at the center
of each galaxy
 is a black hole
the man on the radio said)


For a while  the dead
robin under our yew becomes
a center  its radius  extending
to the yard next-door

with each storm the robin’s body
melts into the soil  new ivies quilt
across the rusty chest and ebony beak

another robin sometimes comes  stands
at the perimeter   bends its head  listening


Horizon separates
the trajectories
of light



Each center within
a radius of meaning

(methane hotspots
nuclear testing sites

wind shifts the radius
of cancer
money shifts
the fallout)

The pandemic too is a picture –

a veritable Venn dance of pink radii
strewn across the map of the world

Centers proliferate

a third eye is necessary

an epicenter
situated above
the true center
of disturbance


At the center of the car  the driver.
the passenger. no.  the cash
that passes hand to hand.
no. the distance traveled.
no. the road
between the wheels.


At the center of the sun
is a hole in the retina

light stings its receptor
fire licks the wick

the soul, it burns inside


(What will you teach us  O Pandemic?
What centers will vie? What revolution
will win   around what will it spin?)


Rain concentrates a feeling
(radiating ache
marrow traces
bone-white glass)

Once a birth contraction   pulse
of red heat   the body

a corporal administrator
of production and goods

head and heart  threaded
throughout   venal   arterial


The blossoms on my peach tree wait for
the bees  each ruffled shirt unbuttoned
rain and snow and sleet have saturated
the pink blush  bees in abeyance

How specific some needs are   coming
with their calling cards  their tiny windows
of availability  they have a certain radius
the sun knows   the wound-up earth gets it

Like a toddler  the blossoms insist
Pollinate me now or I will bear no fruit!


All over the state  the old
biology is learning the new weather
and the radius of possibility grows

the universe  it seems
has an up and a down  an undreamed of
directionality  we thought it was just
more and more expanding out
from an event

this the afterglow of the party
aura and aurora   spilled milky way
lighting up this livable place

our Little Gidding
the end of all our exploring 


Five days of 60º my mother said Then
you’ll find morels  (and if those days
happen in March instead of May?)

the mushrooms know
they feel the soil  the earth tells them
when to grow


What to make of the voice  its emanating
nature   timbre and frequencies
the swallowing of the upper and the lower

the lessening that’s inevitable    the pruning
of the infant mind  the narrowing of possibility


Once I was an astronaut of the brain  devising
exercises and traps  reflective mirrors to light up
the hard cerebral corners  the mystery
of the corpus collosum – that center of
the split  brain   its tuning fork structure
its allowance of cognitive frequencies

I studied the loss of category and number
the geography of capacity
the shape of the whole

I tested undergraduates
made them read red in blue and green in yellow
I plumbed the organization  the tagged

feasted on
meanings so small
as meaning is   its little bits   hoof and leaves
genome and Virus    seconds and minutes


It turns out galaxies are larded with black holes
like respiratory droplets in air   they are everywhere
we’re just beginning to see –

and one is visible even to the naked eye
via a path in neighboring stars
(on the artist’s rendering  the black hole is painted red)

A black hole doesn’t swallow every star in its vicinity
which is why we didn’t know it was there
said the astronomer   it doesn’t
        behave as we thought  so we missed it  

its density isn’t absolute
all along it has been there  breathing darkness
in the swaying forest of stars

~ Mary Buchinger ~

Notes on “Cynosure”

The possibility of directionality in the universe was reported by researchers at the University of New South Wales in April, 2020.

The reference to “Little Gidding” and quote is taken from T. S. Eliot, The Four Quartets.

In the spring of 2020, researchers detected a black hole within 1,000 light years of earth;

 Click here for pdf of poem.