Gary Fincke

The Absolute

To have a tour guide is an absolute
No one disbelieves.  Everybody stays
On the sidewalks.  As if the earth were flat,
The abyss swarming with microsieverts.
For years now, Chernobyl has residents
Who have returned to acceptable risk,
The infamous reactor miles away,
The pair of unfinished ones paused beside
Cranes poisoned for a hundred centuries.It’s Pripyat where nobody chances
A souvenir, where an amusement park,
Nine days from opening, is forever
Poised to start Ferris wheel and bumper cars.

None of its 50,000 can come back,
Except, in April, for one day per year,
Something like a reunion, permitted
To visit the deserted to see that
A version of everything that they were
Continues without them.  The young, we’re told,
Re-enter with their parents, use that day
To drink in the ruins, to break what’s left.

Gary Fincke‘s most recent collection The History of Permanence won the Stephen F. Austin Poetry Prize and was published in 2011.  His New and Selected Poems, Bringing Back the Bones, will be published in late 2015 by Stephen F. Austin as well.  His most recent book is A Room of Rain (stories, West Virginia, 2015).  He is the Charles Degenstein Professor of Creative Writing at Susquehanna University.