Start to Finish

BY Shawn Delgado

Monday: The scientist wakes up a chemistry problem of excited ions. He works toward equilibrium: the lowest energy state. His body is comprised of more than one hundred thousand reactants, so he can't know the names of all these equations, but he does propose that when you combine a body, music, and the ground (optional) with energy, dance is the product. He can seal energy in a letter before he lifts the flag on the mailbox. When he takes it to work, he leaves with a check and the bellies of his pets hang lower, heavier. Some days he finds he must reach into an embrace to ground some charge climbing his spine.

Friday: The scientist wants to stop moving without anyone asking where he's not headed. He drives to the end of an alley that dies into hundreds of paused head- and taillights piloted by people with grimaced faces trying to go to different homes from different jobs at the same time. He parks at the stop sign. The stereo settles on top of the world like fresh snow. He flicks on the hazard lights, and they heave in tandem, almost keeping time. No cars pull behind—no horns berate his fatigue. The cars outside his steel terrarium scrape lines forward like pigs marching up a ramp, then through a hallway where every door is numbered and lettered.


Shawn reads "Start to Finish"

Shawn Delgado earned a BS in science, technology, and culture at the Georgia Institute of Technology and his MFA. in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he is currently teaching. He is the author of the chapbook A Sky Half-Dismantled, and his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Connotations, The Cortland Review, Five Points, and Furious Season, among other places.