The National Poetry Review

Jocelyn Heath

SELF-PORTRAIT AS A BLACK HOLE

Astronomers try to explain me,
but I’m relative like E=m
c2, seen only by what accretes near me:
dwarfs, neon gasses, stellar dust like
Einstein’s hair veiling his great brain.
Far distant, compressed into my own
gravity, I rotate alone, forcing my
heart to densities
immeasurable by any calculus.
Just step back when it’s too much
knotting of space-time to my will,
lest you implode from the pressure—
molten inside—like me.
No one knows what I’ve taken in:
oxygen the least of it. So many
protons, particulates,
quarks, quirks, and more in a
radius the sharpest radio telescope hardly
sees. That I won’t let see—
too many trying to solve my mysteries
until they hit dark matter, then
vacillate between us and pleasing the
world. I won’t be magnified,
x-rayed, mapped, known by
you or anyone. Enigma gives me space to
zero in on myself.

JOCELYN HEATH’s poem “Orbital” won the Allison Joseph Poetry Award from Crab Orchard Review. Her work has appeared in Poet Lore, Sinister Wisdom, Bellingham Review, Natural Bridge, and elsewhere. Other publications include an interview with Natasha Trethewey for Smartish Pace, for which she is an Assistant Editor, and poetry book reviews for Lambda Literary and elsewhere. She received her M.F.A. in poetry in 2011 from the University of Maryland–College Park, and is currently a doctoral candidate at Georgia State University, where she also teaches writing.