Even long after he had left his childhood behind, or such of it as he had actually had, he could still stare up into the night sky, at ceiling of stars with more than a little awe.
And even though he had left childhood behind, no one had yet answered the one question his parents ducked time and time again, one so simple a child knew its answer, but asked anyway, for validation or irritation.
If God created the heavens why did He or She arrange the stars so that people could see in their order other people, lesser gods and all manner of animals?
It is truly unfair, sucks really, that proximity has cast me as nameless, yet I am forced to wear all manner of terms that fit their mood at any given moment, and even then they can’t seem to agree.
You can say it is petty, but I am jealous of Titan, and hell even Phobos and Deimos have proper names, and they are a misshapen, dim pair. Maybe I should blame my companion who rejected a host of names, wanting to be called earth, but why do all the major planets have names while I am tagged with, nothing more than moon.
The quieter you become the more you can hear. — Baba Ram Dass
Orion lies over the wharf staring at the moon, dangling like an unyielding eye, barring sleep while below the waves wash onto the shore, licking the pilings and tasting the sand, a calming roar broken only by the barking of the harbor seals. It is not a night for hunting the bear has fled over the horizon preparing for the coming winter and the hunter tires from the chase. A gull nips at his heels, and plunges back into the swells, he must be content with the odd fish and scraps from the strange ones who mass on the wharf each day and retreat by night until there is only the hunter and the goddess and two young men curled into the sand. I stand on the balcony and stare at the hunter wishing that sleep would come, that the white eye would blink, but the waves wash in and the harbor seals bark and the stars beat a slow retreat.
Once they pierced your heels to hobble you, bound up feet and ankles to lash you to the earth, there weren’t angels then, no wings, just the pain of toes crushed inward, the silent agony of motion, a cruel joke played by gods starved for entertainment. But Terpsichore, hearing Erato’s song, set them free brought them to a pointe, allowed them to take wingless flight, and toes became a platform from which their joy rose up spinning, whirling, slashing until even the most jaded of the gods fell silent in awe.
We sat in the tent and you complained again of our condition, knowing what lies just out of reach. He speaks to me, not you and there is little you can do to hide your jealousy. I often wonder what might have happened if I had wiped the blood of the lamb from your lintel. It was you who watched the calf take shape and did nothing, seeing it a personal tribute, and ordained its fashion and for your sin we shall be together forgotten men in the land of Moab.
They say that some of the rings of Saturn are braided. They also say that Rapunzel’s hair was braided. I am a skeptic for when I stare at Saturn through the old binoculars I see two fuzzy astigmatic spots of light and Rapunzel has gone punk, and I see only an oversized nose ring. The sad thing is that Jupiter’s red spot is showing signs of becoming a melanoma.
You sit on your self-made throne and stare at the night sky as clouds gather and dissipate beneath you. Do you even recall why you were cast out, condemned to your cell so vast yet infinitely confining? Does your body remember the touch of his hand the crude hunter who set you aflame with a white heat that paled the sun of summer? What do you imagine as tongues of the Perseids lick across the sky and disappear into the ebony holes that lurk in the corners of your eyes? You move slowly across my world and only the dawn brings you peace.
Between Scylla and Charybdis they cower amidst the ruins fearful to look skyward lest they encourage the rains of hell.
Now and then they visit the corpses, hastily buried grief drowned by the sound of the laugh of the gunner peering down from the hills. It is always night for the soul and lookout must be kept for Charon, who rides silently along the rivers of blood, that flow through her streets.
In the great halls, far removed from the horror, self-professed wise men exchange maps lines randomly drawn, scythes slicing a people. They trade in lives as chattel, reaping a bitter harvest, praying there may only be but seven lean years.
They offer a sop to Cerberus, three villages straddling the river, but the army of the hills knows they will take that and more and waits patiently for the winter when the odor of sanctity no longer arises out of the city to assail their nostrils and Shadrach is no more than a ghost.
First Appeared in Living Poets (UK), Vol. 2, No. 1, 2000.