Lucretius on the Image

William Doreski

Lucretius thought the images
of things flake like paint and skitter
about the universe. In dreams

these peelings of the outer skin
or film of things afford glimpses
of demonic self-possession

we mistake for death-survival.
Every group of atoms shed
from an object or creature bears

the image of the whole. Last night
I dreamt that crowded in a café,
as we chatted with a film star,

you touched my hand and conveyed
such enormous voltage I died.
Exploded into separate atoms,

I multiplied my image to drift
everywhere and claim enormous
tracts of space that otherwise

would have remained in vacuums
forever. You didn't notice
my electrocution, but went on

stroking the image of my hand,
your face a fragment that drifted
a thousand miles through the dark

to apply itself inside my sleep.
The film star, also, whom I knew
only from tabloid headlines,

maintained a vital self-image
substantial enough to engage.
He admired your drizzle of blonde

and wished you would reach across
the table and shock him the way
you shocked me. But the image

of an image crackled and faded,
and the raucous of crows at dawn
declared classical science bogus,

except for the endless motion
of atoms, that curdling of air
you always leave in your wake.