Past Light

Within reach of sex but not yet, I remember, a few stars 
          freckling the vacancies 
past the yard’s blown flood beams and father’s 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. 
          Sky’s 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 he’d 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 mother’s 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 what’s 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.

Copyright 2005 by Pimone Triplett, from The Price of Light. Reprinted with permission from Four Way Books. All rights reserved.