The Quilted Multiverse / Still Alive / Bitters
“The quilted multiverse theory postulates that every possible event is occurring infinitely many times in nature, thus there are infinitely many universes resembling ours.”
– Frontiers in Physic journal
One way, you pass a house with chickens in the yard and you think, “Ah, I’ve always wanted chickens. I’d be better with chickens.”
One way, you go everywhere by bike and live in a flap tent alone. Your thighs are sculpted like marble.
One way is full of bubbles: bathtubs, gum, champagne, Jacuzzis.
One way, you live over water. A Mississippi riverboat gambler or a Breton oyster farmer.
One way is a wrong turn and you can see the straight path in the valley below but it’s impossible to reach it on foot.
One way is very short but satisfying. Like a sneeze or an orgasm.
One way is dark, full of witchcraft and mistakes.
One way brings you through a portal to another dimension where all this, the virus, never happened and you go on overnight train journeys in sleeper cars and kiss and touch strangers, their alien eyebrows different than yours.
There is, of course, a parallel universe where your hand slips
slicing this bright cantaloupe.
Blood and melon juice on the counter.
Nine-fingered for the rest of your days.
Bless. It already happened.
You write out of the blue to ask if I am “still alive”
but I imagine you’ll know the hour of my death.
On that day, the dog will lay idle by the door
and refuse to eat her breakfast.
An inconsequential volcano, far from any town, will erupt.
A brood of nine ducklings will learn to swim on the river,
but there will only be three left by the end of spring.
When you walk into the pub, the old men drinking whiskies won’t even glance up to look at you.
An uneasy feeling will come over you at odd moments like in a waiting room when you’re not sure of the intake protocol.
A short article will appear in the police blotter about a disturbance very near your house that you hadn’t noticed even though you’d been home at that exact time.
A litter of stray cats will be born all white, one after another in the loft of the barn.
Your mother won’t pick up the phone when you call.
The egg will have two yolks.
The key will stick in the lock.
Your wife will refuse your touch.
A child will be scared of you.
I promise I will let you know if I die.
In this family, we die from the inside out.
Invisible bowel diseases, ulcers, depression.
Complaints kept secret in the body for years.
We burn and rot and say nothing.
Our stomachs hurt for decades
but sure we’ll have another whiskey.
A tumbler of gin in the car on the way to church.
What’s one more sin to a sinner?
The priest says we have to remember the human dimension of Jesus.
I imagine his organs, his liver
Wasn’t he up for a drink or two?
The sacrificial limb.
Then, coming up from somewhere deep inside me:
my odd impulse to order any drink that comes with bitters in it.
The word transports.
I imagine my grandmother at the end of her life
going through the list of times she was wronged
her private heartbreaks and slights
We sip bitters, we swallow bitters.
Oh bitter liver
there’s water around the bend.
We’ll repent and forgive
turn over a new lobe
cross the threshold of some anatomical landmark
a tattoo of how far we’ve come.
Stephanie Staab is an American poet and translator living in the Black Forest. Her work has appeared in Crab Creek Review, Ligeia Magazine and Summerset Review among others. Her chapbook Earthling is available now at Selcouth Station press.