Mudlark Flash No. 111 (2017)

Diane DeCillis

Monument to Joe Louis in Detroit, Photo by Diane DeCillis

Monument to Joe Louis, photograph from Daily Detroit

The Fist on Jefferson Avenue
Meets Isaac Newton

Newton’s cradle demonstrates conservation of momentum and energy
via a series of swinging spheres. When one on the end is lifted and released, 
it strikes the stationary spheres; a force is transmitted pushing the last one upward.                  		    
                                                                                    — Wikipedia
If you drive down Jefferson near the banks
of the Detroit river, you can’t miss the massive 

24-foot-long, 8,000-pound sculpture, a forearm 
that cuts through the urban landscape 

with the force Joe Louis used to knock out 
Max Schmeling. Dubbed The Fist, this “Monument   

to Louis” might have taught Newton 
a thing or two. Imagine pulling back the bronze arm 

to launch an unstoppable forward motion, 
a hook, a cross, uppercut-combos coming at you

again and again. His fists, fastest in history, 
traveled mere inches ending in explosions

that could paralyze. His moves, efficient, 
                I’ve seen Joe’s hands, felt his warm grip 
when we stood up at a friend’s Vegas wedding in the 70’s. 

Dressed in elegant white he spoke in a soft tenor, 
had tender eyes. Eyes of a boy who lost his father 

at the age of four, someone ready to give a hand, 
give away all his cash, even when it meant

living in poverty.  
			  I wish I’d talked to him more, 

but I was young, ready to waste perfectly good 
moments, thinking, like a pendulum, they’d return.

Suspended in a pyramidal frame, the hefty Fist 
never sways, but does set the mind in motion. 

Some say it looks cocked, an in-your-face jab, 
head on, like a truck rolling off the Rouge, 

others see it as protective, ready to defend 
the city that has taken its share of blows.


When NPR announced Mars
will appear larger in the sky tonight,
that its orbit will bring it closer 

to earth, I thought of the times I’ve heard 
you can almost touch it,
the misses and near-misses,

the lingering before yes or no—
marriages, children, flights
that could have gone either way.

I thought of the trajectory 
of roots, old trees, patches of land
inhabited by families

over centuries—the silent 
march of footprints. 
And the word belonging,

how the towering pines in our yard 
belong to us—used to
belong to someone else,

and will belong to others 
who will claim them as their own. 
I thought of the words 

when we are gone,
how we travel among our own 
swath of humanity, 

share the same news, 
moments that will define
our eventual history.

Years ago, my husband showed me 
Mars through his telescope—
stars and planets I’d never seen 

simply because I never looked,
an unfathomable wilderness 
that made me feel safer

just knowing there was more.
The news that followed Mars
was of the demise of a small boat

crammed with five hundred 
human beings, their weight, 
the weight of their longing, 

too heavy for the saran of saltwater 
stretched to hold the words: 

How with no space between them 
they became one word, refugees 
unable to realize the dream 

they could almost touch.
Now, I’m thinking about the difference 
between night and day

how day is being 
and night is searching—
and the sky—all that room.

Diane DeCillis writes at her desk in West Bloomfield, Michigan. Her poetry collection, Strings Attached (Wayne State UP, 2014), is a Michigan Notable Book for 2015, won The 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Award for poetry, and was a finalist for the Forward Indie Fab Book Award for poetry. Her poems and essays have appeared in CALYX, Evansville Review, Minnesota Review, Nimrod International Journal, Connecticut Review, Gastronomica, Rattle, Slipstream, Southern Indiana Review, William and Mary Review, and numerous other journals.

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