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There is light in the tips of the little plastic fibers
that splay out from the top of the cheap party-favor toy
when you turn on the switch. It is multi-colored neon.
You click off then on again. It is purple. Off. On.

Then red. Off on. Orange. On and on it changes
going through a complete color wheel.
It runs on tiny button batteries. There are some
that are dead and still alive. Though they go on living,
blank dots mark new constellations of sorts on spaces
much brighter but farther away.
This is you at the speed of light*.
Reflective after the initial flash.

But I am very still. Or appear to be. My impact coming
much later, when I finally figure out what it means to be cold.
I will be a red dwarf, my light much older. Dim but not out.
And not completely knowing.
I did not know that my face was a ship that sails inside a spark**.

Jan. 1st, 2006
Revised (slightly) from an older version.

*From “The Disappearances” by Vijay Seshadri.
**From “A Mirror for a Question” by Adonis. (Translated, from the Arabic, by Khaled Mattawa.)


I am a children's librarian. I have 2 kids. I have a professor for a husband. I obsess about writing and about making things.

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  1. Caroline says:

    Wow, Brooke. This one’s really neat. I particularly love the last stanza.

    I feel a bit dull, but I’m not sure I quite grasp what the object is that you’re describing in the first couple of stanzas. What is this party favor toy?

  2. Brooke says:

    Caroline, I wasn’t sure it would be clear, so I posted it as the image.

  3. Caroline says:

    I thought that might be a picture of what you were referring to. But I still feel a little dim because I don’t know if I’ve ever seen one of those in real life.

    One thing I would love for you to clarify – the connection of the party toy with a star. I feel like I follow things pretty much until the line about blank dots marking new constellations. Can you spell out how the two are similar?

  4. Myka says:

    Brooke, I really enjoyed this poem. If you don’t mind, I’d like to offer some suggestions-
    Favor-toy seems redundant, I would just take out toy.
    Take out “of sorts” after “constellations” to make a solid metaphor- I like it that way
    Maybe play with the ending quotation that you used and work it in with your last line i.e. “And not completely knowing that my face…”
    Also, technical: do you really turn it off and on again, or does it change on its own once you turn it on?
    Thanks for sharing! I don’t know how much you want to work with it, but I find that my poems are always changing. Hope to read more again.

  5. Brooke says:

    Caroline, I am mostly just playing with points of light in general as a visual, so the connection is somewhat vague and open to interpretation. I just kind of liked the idea of moving from dots of light on a little toy to something vast.

    Myka, thanks for the suggestions. I really like omitting unnecessary words, and you’ve spotted some. Also, the last quotation could be rearranged and probably fit better into the overall voice. I was playing with lines from other people’s poems when I wrote this, but I am not committed to using them. Thanks again for your thoughts!

    Technically, the toy changes color when you turn it off and back on. I don’t know if it’s supposed to work that way, but I like how that makes the changing of color deliberate.

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