on reading my daughter’s soil engineering thesis
A sine wave will go a long way and not fade;
it will be drunk by the roots
of the house, then by the ground: Surface waves,
Body waves. And Love waves
—transverse motions perpendicular to the vector
that is, love is a wave that itself nulls.
It’s not the quake that kills,
but subsurface structural failure. Not the war,
but those who did nothing
to stop it; not the affair, but what the marriage
was not built on.
In resonance, soil waves swell when they meet
other waves—a passing train,
crickets that hit the same note at the same time;
then like a great bowl the earth tips,
land masses sliding like pudding to the one side,
and big things fall down and we die.
Big things fall down and we die, and why is always
the question we ask without answer
and still must ask. But you, daughter, with your steel
-toed boots and cans of white spray paint
and little colored flags on stakes, you are now
the one holding up the world’s buildings
and bridges, and next time I cross one while a train
trundles by, I’ll think of Love Waves,
how we thwart what we cherish, and risk being
too much in tune with the breath
and pulse of the world, and I’ll thank physics or God
for the spark that joined spark
to ignite you. And give praise that keeping the world
from flying apart is now less and less my job.
Yes, the tide goes out and waves ebb; in the still hour
the world is withdrawn. But you, Love,
will wave to me from the bridge rampart. You’ll be wearing
your hard hat. And you will go on.