Cynthia Hogue
Late Nights with Albert


When I asked how the Theory
of Relativity came to him
Albert said, In dreams.

In dreams he understood
that our dance with an atom
was the last waltz.

What a Schadenfreude, this waltz,
Albert sighed when I woke him
from his trance wide-eyed.

So absent-minded with
his visions he’s become
that he loses their thread

or, I sometimes say, ignores
the small details. There’s no time
he cries. Countless others

now dream of being
spacy as molecules
of Himalayan oxygen,

too hip to remember
the first to reach top
fell--lying unfound for years.

Oh, Albert, why did you
dream so much? I ask.
It was only the end

of matter, not an end
to the matter, isn't it?
he cries softly to himself,

for the worst who turn
matter into energy
at a profit and think

a good day's job incorporates
that neat quantity
into their kids' bodies

as if into portfolios.
Once folios imaged things
in the world: leaves

like wings aflutter in fall's
foliage reminding some scribe
of illumination.

Albert's dream breaks off
in showers of missteps
that finish the dance he began

and ends alone, spinning slowly
beneath the bursts of dumb stars
illumining the night.