Within reach of sex but not yet, I remember, a few stars
freckling the vacancies
past the yardís blown flood beams and fatherís single
sycamore. Expert amateur,
I thought myself, aged thirteen, rabid for facts and trying
to have a mind for
what each light was. This I knew: arrivals of gaseous crackups
wholly unlike us, and not
pinpricks, nor quaint connect-the-dots, nor tiny stabs of will.
Skyís Zenith, Lyra, The Great, The Small Bear.
Hopes rose. It was before the boys and window escapes,
before breakup seeped
into the house like bad water. I loved stories
of staying in place.
In the one about the ancient astronomer
on the day of eclipse,
after heíd gazed his naked sight away,
he thought he saw the sun giving birth
to itself and scrawled, half blind, in a notebook,
as if wood fought back
to eat the fire. Meanwhile, our lawn sparked
with motherís rake tines upraised,
sound of door slam and squabble inside, squeal
of brakes rounding
out the drive. And if I wanted one clean,
one lesser loyalty, wishing
so hard on that old onlooker?
I could see him at full kneel
in dirt unflinching, begging the above to smote whatís bulk,
the words arcing slowly up,
saying, burn me all to star, o fathers.
I understood nothing of their pain.
Already, close to home, the sycamore leaves in full
heat looked edgeless,
each dark on dark blurring the shapes
as if we were all dropped through:
Zenith, Lyra, The Greater, The Lesser, The True.