Astronomy

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Astronomy

by Jesse Graves
Southern Cultures, Vol. 22, No. 1: Documentary Arts

“Behind all those overspilling clouds, the moon catches light still and sends it to you, unbidden, but you would know to ask for it if it never came . . .”

Let the past have its dominion tonight,
let the winded rain blow in and shake
windows loose in their softening frames,

nothing that hurt you once can hurt you again.
You are free to roam this land without fear,
without jealousy, intimidated by no one,

books you have studied, you read again
for the first time, their words realigned
on fresh cut pages, reintroducing themselves.

Behind all those overspilling clouds, the moon
catches light still and sends it to you, unbidden,
but you would know to ask for it if it never came,

darkness would tell you how much you need
the light, hands outstretched would tell you.
Let the moon reap its hidden dominion tonight,

let reflected rays guide the way back, the return
to the child you once were, sitting under stars
with an uncle, a protector, guardian from fear,

who told you the names of what you saw,
lifted you onto his shoulders to get you as close
as possible to heaven, the place you both

believed awaited your arrival with angels singing,
safe at last from whatever darkened visions crept
into your dreams, terrors of the dead, and the living.

Trace the patterns your pointing finger made,
star to star, map made of myths, horns, spear-tips,
flanks of a roving bear, true companions of the moon,

whose round face you loved above all other shapes
in the sky, sensing even then that her silver arrows
took aim against whatever threatened you harm.