Corrigan’s Compass

Venus is the only planet that rotates counter clockwise,
like one of those soccer balls driven into the wrong net.
Today I sat looking at the sea, thinking: “I should be having
deep thoughts,” but that’s all I could think about
and the sea kept washing in, washing out, as if to taunt me.
When “Wrong-Way Corrigan” flew from New York
to Ireland, rather than back to California, he claimed
it was due to a navigational error and dim lighting
so he couldn’t read his compass. But the truth is always
different from belief. There are those who think
he meant to fly to Ireland and I like to think that’s true,
making a fox of a fool. Walking on the beach,
I thought: “I’m walking on the beach,” which was true
but hardly worth thinking. No one at that time was allowed
to fly across the ocean alone, and the rules state
that if you kick the ball into your opponent’s net
they get the score. Sometimes things seem to be equal,
when they’re not. Take the train from Paris to Amsterdam
and it could feel like swimming from Bordeaux
to Miami Beach, though doing that might feel like traveling
to Venus, which is inadvisable at any time of year.
Lately I’ve been thinking about the characters in books,
what they do when we’re not reading about them,
how they animate themselves again instantly the minute
we open the book as though they’d frozen like actors we TIVO
so they pick the story up exactly where it left off.
And have you noticed how this has subtly affected reality,
so that when you see something actually happen
you think: “I’ll rewind that, I’d like to see it again”?
But I’ve taken a wrong turn, and my head is beginning
to spin like Corrigan’s compass, or the planets
Galilleo knew revolved around the sun, and not the other
way around. Except for Venus, which is both
the morning and evening star and so seems wrong too
but isn’t, wrapped in clouds of sulphuric acid,
no matter how beautiful it looks hovering in the sky.

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