Poetry | March 01, 1989

This poem was selected as Poem of the Week (Jan. 21, 2008).


The Heavy Light of Shifting Stars

Sometimes the nite is the shape
of a ear only it ain’t a ear
we know the shape of.

-Russell Hoban
Riddley Walker


The huge magnanimous stars are many things.

At night we lower window shades

to mute the sparkling circuitry of the universe;

at day the sun’s clear mist, like a beautiful

cabinetry, shrouds the workings of the sky.


Everything is hidden, everything is apparent,

so that light coming toward us, held

in the faces of our old regrets, is blue;

while the light passing away, blurred

by our stationary focus, is red.


We cannot see these colors with our eyes,

just as we cannot feel the sun pushing the stars

outward or bending the paths of their light.

Years ago when the world was flat, and then even

when the world became round, light was light,


dark was dark, and now, now that the world

is almost nothing compared with all that is-

all that we know-light identified each atom

of the universe, and darkness swallows stars

like a whirlpool at the heart of a galaxy.


The huge magnanimous stars are many things.

We look to the sky and ask, What has changed?

Everything. But nothing we can see, and our seeing

changes nothing, until we move, and moving

we become the light of our atoms moving.


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