BENJAMIN
FARO

Benjamin Faro is a green-thumbed writer and educator living in Asunción, Paraguay, on stolen Guaraní lands. He is currently pursuing his MFA at Queens University of Charlotte, and his prose and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in The Madison Review, Portland Review, Atlanta Review, Invisible City and elsewhere.

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PERFECT ELASTICITY

Hooke's Law states 

 

                    that a given object 

will return to its original shape 

 

no matter 

          how strongly it is deformed.



 

There is a hope here in the words given,

original, return, as if we become again 

 

what we wish to be, inevitably and wanted.

And if we speak of beginning, we speak 

 

of the end—our purpose misplaced in the 

way the word has bent us from birth— 

 

malleable and twisted as molten glass, but 

according to physics, what form that's lost is 

 

eagerly restored—your form, the necessary if 

not welcome homecoming to who you were 

 

meant to be. Life and its matters, this long 

ripple of nuclear fusion snaking through 

 

spacetime, our planet a sky lantern finding

its way, each of us a smaller one inside.

 

The light. Your purpose refound. And

what if you could relive each memory 

 

only once, then it was gone, like that middle 

coda in Beethoven's last unwritten fantasia. 

 

Don't you remember? Cry the chords you 

never heard but vividly recall. Sit and listen 

 

to the black-keyed melody of some alternate 

life, drink up the smell of rosemary and vinegar. 


 

And if we speak of beginning, then we speak 

of chaos, like the soft cover of a felt night 

 

 

and how it suddenly is glass and shatters at 

the sound of a wailing newborn, persistent and 

 

inevitable. You shush this life to sleep. You can 

forget about a child, but you cannot forget your 

 

sadness. You dream of the snowbelt, the Fifties

when the factories downtown still had windows 

 

and global warming wasn’t a thing. Fresh paint on 

red brick: Syracuse China. Nearby, the gravel mine. 

 

Solvay Process. The Fair Grounds. On 690 westbound, 

now just smokestacks beneath a sky that still seems just 

 

as grey. Wasted years in the smog around you. And you 

turn up the stale defroster, smell the salty roads of March 

 

and think of us, the Big Bang, the End and what comes after

and figure if we really are to be together again, it won't be 

 

for another billion lifetimes.

OROGENY

And this was Appalachia.

 

Floral elders telling stories of beginning.

 

How coconuts appeared mid-Miocene, five to twenty million 

years ago, when trees now petrified plumped their reddish fruits

with sour juices. 

 

The birth of kelp forests, grasslands, 

hominini.

 

Understand how long it took for Homo habilis to become us. 

 

You can't. 

 

Now do that ten more times. 

 

Look back to when we were only atoms in the silt of a Devonian 

foreland basin. 

 

The Catskills, the Alleghenies, tell us that the crystal water shallowed

quickly to the west, deepened as it pooled over what is now

Ohio, West Virginia, Tennessee.

 

This was the time of fish, when tetrapods first climbed ashore. 

 

And why does it still seem easier to get oxygen from water? 

The need for air feels inefficient, but we are given it. 

 

And this was Appalachia:

 

Mont Blanc or Seoraksan, La Serranía de Hornocal. The sons

of prehistoric orogen.

 

And we call it prehistoric only because it preceded us. 

 

We, apparently, are history.

 

And what other force but Earth knows that an internal flame

can take you to the clouds?

 

Destruction : Creation : Destruction : Creation and so on

for all of time.

 

And it's cold up there, where mist looks like mist at any age, 

as it always has and must, and

 

this water is the only thing that makes any sense at all—

its sleight of hand, its

 

magic, disappearing to become again some fossil

spring through this,

 

our inevitable and heavenly subduction.

REFRAIN

And all the moisture 

in your jaw was 

just some snowmelt 

passing through a 

largemouth's gills: 

fishbreath,

the start of it all,

so sing with it

and sense the

slow beginning 

that lubricates 

your sleepy voice

and feel how

it is necessary

that every word 

begins with water. 

And you rise with 

sounds much older 

than you still

to wait for dawn

without standing

up for anything, 

for continents 

are shifting—and

what else is there

to do but sit and

feel that distant, 

restless hum?

HOLLOW

Discussions in the house got louder, and it would

have been embarrassing had I been there; but

 

I was already gone. Space is what we seek when 

we need closeness most: drowning cedars in

 

mossy blankets, dead leaves, peat—things familiar

and organic in decay. Think about how when you cut

 

a worm, it remains alive—makes two—and wonder

why it is not the same with snakes. Only some things

 

can survive when split. And there is something about

New York—not the city—its glacier-chiseled dales in

 

springtime. Sunken marshes, bogs, and other lowlands

flood, and the water must come from somewhere.

 

Cascades in the mapled valleys. Jewels of some modest

prince's emerald crown, pouring down past vultures' nests

 

and nettle to the center lake, where warmer summers turn

its shallows wrongly verdant—thick and soupy to the touch.

 

Imagine walking out to build a raft of blue-green algae, 

reclining, looking up at hang-gliders in the sky,

 

facing down like mirrors of yourself, but completely 

different people, soaring through a space where they

 

were absolutely never meant to be.