April Prompts: Number 24

April Prompts #24

David’s #3:  Explain how you got here

 

HOW WE GOT HERE

 

Some of us came from the Red Sea

and some from the steppes.

We lighted fires wherever we went.

I remember the Zagros Mountains,

the shores of the Black Sea,

the dark caves in the high hills.

 

Sometimes we walked by walls of ice,

sometimes we slept in trees.

We were hungry,  and hunted.

We were frightened at night.

We were frightened of anything

we did not comprehend.

 

We made patterns on the ground.

We made pictures in the stars.

We made pictures on the stones.

We told stories to make us brave.

We sang to make us braver.

Our children are full of our songs.

April Prompts: Number 11

APRIL PROMPT #11

Janet’s #1:  a fan letter to someone living

 

I’M YOUR BIGGEST FAN

 

They filled you with poison;

you made yourself wings.

 

They cut you open;

you took to the sky.

 

Is there anything you can’t fix?

Anything you haven’t lived?

 

Like no one else,

you keep your balance.

 

Watching the stars,

walking the mountain,

 

always knowing where you are.

April Prompt #9

APRIL PROMPTS #9

David #4:  Your secret name, or real name, or secret identity

 

WHO AM I NOW

 

It has to do with the birds who come to the feeder

outside my study window every morning and the birds

who meet me in the forest and feed from my hand.

And the water that drips from the eaves

and the water that flows in the channel

under the log bridge between the low banks

on the east side of the garden.  The old oak tree

and her squirrel- planted children.

All the different mosses on tree trunks and stones

with their lancelet or oval or hairlike leaves

and the small insects living between their branches.

Opossum tracks and bobcat tracks and fox tracks

and coyote tracks and crow tracks and turkey tracks

and the tracks of the stray cat around the garage.

The way clouds dissipate or grow. Planets

wandering along the ecliptic. The nebula

in Orion, and the star cluster in Hercules

and the stories about Orion and Hercules

and Persephone and Artemis and One-Eye

Two-Eyes and Three-Eyes and Briar Rose.

The stories about Elijah and Jesus. Stories

about my grandmother, my father, neighbors.

The people I overhear in berry patches

and on the street. My husband and son.

My friends. And you, too. Definitely you.

FIGURE AND GROUND

 

 

VENUS 2

 

 

FIGURE AND GROUND

She is a shadow on the grass. She

is a shadow cast by a star so plain

it bears a simple name. She is a figure

on a ground so vast that even she

can not see herself. Mosses grow under

the grasses. Stars behind the sun. Shadows

follow on, between the eastern mountains

and the field all green and yellow. And each

pebble burns its shadow, and each broken

sparrow on the road’s cold shoulder. And why

would anyone be afraid to die

against this curve of space, this ground of time?

Her breath streams a shadow through still airs.

Passing planets pull dark shadows from their stars.

ASTRONOMY

DEEP FIELD

Are there as many strands of gossamer
as galaxies–stars and spiders
sifting through the sky?
All the yellow leaves of autumn,
finch feathers, the finite grains of sand,
mitochondria in every living cell,
cells in every soul–if souls have cells–
how shall we learn the number of them all?

SUPER NOVA 2011fe in M101

Small quick birds,
the great Gravel Beasts,*
our wary little forebears
flickered and lumbered and scampered
the day you broke and dimmed and died.

 *Chalicotherium– “gravel beasts”–knuckle walkers, related to horses.

JUPITER

Seducer, almost-star,
bringer of winter jollity,
how I envy your moons–
their dance, their colors,
the way they throw their tiny shadows
against your wild pale flank.

MARS & VENUS

He is silent.
With one orange eye he stares
across the ecliptic
at his sister

who is not a planet
but a hole in the firmament,
a clue to the brightness above the ceiling
with its thousand painted stars.

SATURN

The old man looms and turns,
taking his time,
our time,
all the time in the sky.

COLOR BLIND

Antares is the red heart of Scorpio.
We cannot see its color in the dark,
where even the War God’s bloody hue
is nothing more threatening than gold.

ORION

Giant,
Hunter,
Lover of the Moon,

did the ancients who named you
know that under your belt
the stars are born?

One day your red shoulder
will shine
with the sun.

HERSCHEL’S GARNET STAR

At a quarry, in my youth,
I prised you from matrix,
tossed you into the sky.
I thought you were lost,
but here you are, Mu Cephei,
Erakis, right ear
of the somber Aethiopian king.
LUNA, IN ECLIPSE
Rolling we come,
trailing our shade.

Bell of silence,
ball of stone,
pocked with stone,
pale and silent
pearl.
GROOMBRIDGE 1830 

I was only fooling around
when I found you–
Groombridge did it
with a Transit Circle,
made especially for him.

Strange, how some stars
shine more beautifully than most,
how they call, compel.

DRACO

Damn it, gone again.
Your head, yes, tonight
sleeps above Hercules,
but your tail is lost in light.

Please
wake up and twitch.
You were always there
when I was a virgin
and the skies were always dark.

WHEN I HEARD THE LEARNED ASTRONOMER
~With no apology to Walt Whitman

When I heard the learned astronomer,
when the images from Hubble were set before me,
when I was shown the clustered birthing places of stars,
collisions of galaxies, death throes of red giants,
when I heard the astronomer rejoice in the enormity
of our ignorance–Dark Matter!  Dark Energy!–
how soon accountable I felt awake and alive,
and later, I wandered home and stood with my telescope
in the mystical clear night air, feeling curious and small,
and looked and looked in perfect silence at the stars.

ORTHDOX SOPHROSYNE

I shall discard their major preservation,
All that they know so long as no one asks.

~W.H. Auden, For the Time Being

Men left a golf ball on the moon–
litter on her pocked and dusty face.
Betelgeuse could hold a billion Earths
and still have room.  The poet David
considered the Heavens and stood
amazed at the dome of stars,
home of angels and gods,
amazed that humans matter.

Dark matter weighs
more than what we know.
Dark energy holds
the whole thing in.
What’s so odd about
a multitude of gods?

O, Pluto and Persephone!
Chernobog, Grandmother of Beetles!

Under the Earth the shades of the dead,
root, and worm, fire and stone.
Here on the skin, trees and wind.
Up in the Heavens, a billion billion stars.

Jupiter, Venus, way up there–
Thor and Nanook, hear my prayer.

What does it mean to love?
Out here in the dark does it matter?  Hell,
give me chocolate cake and cheap gasoline.
I want a telescope of my own.
I want someone to remember my childhood name.
I want a raven to come when I call.
I want a grandchild before I die.

O, Spider Woman, Shiva, Grandpa Oak Tree,
Brigid, Loki, Ab Kin Zoc,

What do you want from me?

I’ll offer sacrifice:
burn my mother’s letters,
give away all coats but one.
I’ll bury my journals and earrings
and smash the teacups on the walk.
Already I feed wild birds
and remember the birthdays of my friends.
I’m thinking of reading to the blind.

Will that make a difference?
Green Tara?  Mother of Trolls?
Odin?   Pan?  Epimetheus?
Jesus, lover of our souls?

I can’t count to one billion.
An acre of cattails makes a trillion seeds.
I can’t define humankind.
A gorilla is learning to play the flute.

Vesta, Durga, Horus, Kuan Ti,
Eostre,  Manito, Mary, Loki,
Twinkle, twinkle, Brother Star,
can you tell me what we are?

Bowerbirds build beautiful houses;
Ichneumonid wasps change spider’s brains.
Rebirth?  A piece of cake.
Gods.  Elves.  Spirits of the dead.
My body recomposed,
my neighbor as myself.

Betelgeuse is getting ready to go.
Four billion years and our Sun goes, too,
out to where the dead suns go–
with our houseplants and graves, letters, spoons and blogs.
Nothing but ashes and a million broken gods.

Everything matters.
I think I have to love you all.