Strange Attractors

How to find them, those regions
Of space where the equation traces
Over and over a kind of path,
Like the moth that batters its way
Back toward the light
Or, hearing the high cry of the bat,
Folds its wings in a rolling dive?

And ourselves, fluttering toward and away
In a pattern that, given enough
Dimensions and point-of-view,
Anyone living there could plainly see--
Dance and story, advance, retreat,
A human chaos that some slight
Early difference altered irretrievably?

For one, the sound of her mother
Crying. For this other,
The hands that soothed
When he was sick. For a third,
The silence that collects
Around certain facts. And this one,
Sent to bed, longing for a nightlight.

Though we think this time to escape,
Holding a head up, nothing wrong,
Finding a way to beat the system,
Talking about anything else--
Travel, the weather, time
At the flight simulator--for some
The journey circles back

To those strange, unpredictable attractors
Secrets we can neither speak nor leave.

--Robin S. Chapman

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