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“One of my favorite stars to scorch up the summer sky is Albireo, the head of the swan, in the constellation Cygnus. In the second century, Ptolemy included Cygnus in his famous list of forty-eight constellations. In thinking about finding solace in nature, I’m reminded of the marginalia found in Ptolemy’s sky notebooks: ‘I know I am mortal by nature…but when I trace at my pleasure the windings to and fro of the heavenly bodies, I no longer touch earth with my feet.’”

—Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Upon Hearing the News You Buried Our Dog

Aimee Nezhukumatathil, 1974

I have faith in the single glossy capsule of a butterfly egg.
I have faith in the way a wasp nest is never quiet

and never wants to be. I have faith that the pile of forty
painted turtles balanced on top of each other will not fall

as the whole messy mass makes a scrabble-run
for the creek and away from a fox’s muddy paws.

I have been thinking of you on these moonless nights—
nights so full of blue fur and needle-whiskers, I don’t dare

linger outside for long. I wonder if scientists could classify
us a binary star—something like Albireo, four-hundred

light years away. I love that this star is actually two—
one blue, one gold, circling each other, never touching—

a single star soldered and edged in two colors if you spy it
on a clear night in July. And if this evening, wherever you are,

brings you face to face with a raccoon or possum—
be careful of the teeth and all that wet bite.

During the darkest part of the night, teeth grow longer
in their mouths. And if the oleander spins you still

another way—take a turn and follow it. It will help you avoid
the spun-light sky, what singularity we might’ve become.

Copyright @ 2014 by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on May 20, 2014.

Copyright @ 2014 by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on May 20, 2014.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of three poetry collections: Lucky Fish (Tupelo Press, 2011), winner of the 2011 Eric Hoffer Grand Prize; At the Drive-In Volcano (Tupelo Press, 2007), winner of the Balcones Poetry Prize; and Miracle Fruit (Tupelo Press, 2003), winner of the Global Filipino Award and the Tupelo Press Prize.

by this poet

poem

Exactly four different men have tried
to teach me how to play. I could never
tell the difference between a rook
or bishop, but I knew the horse meant

knight. And that made sense to me,
because a horse is night: soot-hoof
and nostril, dark as a sabled evening

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