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Null Hypothesis

by Richard Paez

Version One

Coldest morning in six years.

The outside world is white

glaring under a new sun

seen but barely felt.

 

The sunshine is just warm enough

to make my old blood run;

just warm enough

to make the day’s coldness real.

I turn to face the warmth

and my back freezes.

I walk towards the sun.

 

My shadow stretches

out behind me

six-years-long.

Distorted and tapering,

blind and frozen:

the residue of myself

left behind with each step.

The nothing that is everything.

The remainder the sun won’t touch.

 

My back is frozen

my skin is a scab of ice

my neglected shadow follows.

I walk towards the sun.

There is nothing living out here.

Nothing but the space

where my feet meet my shadow.

 

I’ve been out here for six years

trying to catch up.

Everything is white, glaring.

Enough to make my old blood run.

I turn to face the warmth.

 

Looking down as I walk

I realize my feet never leave the ground:

they always touch the earth through shadow.

 

Everything is cold air and gravity.

Everything is heavy with static.

 

Version Two
Cold morning looking back:
it's been six years since yesterday.

The outside world is white-glaring
under a new sun that's seen but barely felt.
The sunshine is just warm enough
to make my old blood run;
just warm enough
to make the cold day real.

I turn to face the warmth.
My back freezes.

I walk towards the sun.
My shadow stretches out
six years long behind me.
Distorted and tapering,
blind and frozen:
the residue of myself
left behind with each step.
The nothing that is everything.
The me the sun won’t touch.

My back is frozen.
My skin a scab of ice.
My neglected shadow follows,
felt but out of sight.

I walk towards the sun.
Nothing breathes out here.
Nothing breathes wide and heavy.
Nothing lives out here
except the space
where my feet meet my shadow.

I’ve been out here six years
trying to catch up.

Everything is white, glaring.
Enough to make my old blood run.
I turn to face the warmth
and look down at footfalls.
My feet never leave the ground:
they always touch the earth through shadow.

Everything is cold air and gravity.
Everything is heavy with static.

12/11/2004

Posted on 12/11/2004
Copyright © 2020 Richard Paez

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Anne Engelen on 12/11/04 at 07:27 PM

My favourite lines most certainly are: "Looking down as I walk I realize me feet never leave the ground: they always touch the earth through shadow." I like the way this confronts me with thoughts that surprise me at this moment. Great read.

Posted by Ava Blu on 12/12/04 at 01:57 AM

Very good. This poem makes me try to figure it out. The meaning behind your lines is not so blatantly obvious. It's one of those poems I must reread. "the residue of myself left behind with each step"--this is my favorite line. We do all leave behind a small portion of ourselves with/in everything/everyone.

Posted by James Cavet on 12/13/04 at 02:54 AM

I get these same feelings in the winter. That's why I like this.

Posted by Tom Goss on 12/14/04 at 05:40 PM

Brilliant elucidation of many moments in the cold, with the sun teasing. Glad you were on my favorites list so I could find this one.

Posted by Christina Bruno on 12/15/04 at 05:15 AM

wonderful job, excellent imagery :)

Posted by Leslie Ann Eisenberg on 01/14/05 at 08:12 PM

I just love the first version. better flow, better story telling, maybe because it starts in image... the opening stanzas are amazing, and my fave line: my skin is a scab of ice...yeah, love the spooky gray font, too.

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