LOOKING AT STARS FROM SPY ROCK
Looking at stars from Spy Rock
on top of Foley Mountain,
Westport glowing like an alloy
of red algae and fireflies down below
around the sacred pools of small mouth bass
raised from fingerlings
to lure the fishermen of Hazelton Pennsylvania
to this pioneer pantry of wildlife up north.
I can remember you naming them out loud
like Santa Claus’ reindeer.
Deneb, Vega, Al Tair.
And I tried hard to look
but I couldn’t take my eyes off of you.
And I’m up here again by myself many years later
and there are two ghosts on the wind
casting their shadows on the Milky Way
two black holes in time
that took it all in
We didn’t separate.
We just evaporated into thin air
and I can hear the flowers saying
in their small damaged voices
I’d rather die than put up with this time of year.
and the occasional brown bear
looking for a last snack before sleep
before the flame of life
is turned down so low
it’s merely a candle living off
the lifespan of its own fat
just long enough to keep the dream
of what bears dream about alive
until hunger drives them out of their caves
twelve thousand years later
into a world they can no longer recognize
as the one that dressed up in their hides and their skulls
and spit-painted on their cave walls
and appealed to their power not to kill it outright
as it begged forgiveness for its trespass.
Bear magic on Foley Mountain.
Ursa Major in starlight.
And for awhile I thought you might be
my circumpolar girlfriend
and I could be your mystic star map.
You had the right ascension as me
but the wrong declination
and like everything else
that’s ever led me out of the wilderness
like the only direction left to go in
you rose and set over my event horizon
and what had been the fixed stars of my eyes and heart
wandered off like fireflies and chimney sparks
into a darkness I could only imagine
enhances your shining somewhere
like a warm breath of life and light
hovering in the cold night air
as mine is exorcised here.
We breathe the stars in
and then we breathe them out
and it’s been going on like this
for thousands of light years.
Three more nights
and the moon will catch up to Jupiter.
You said you couldn’t be famous
standing in my shadow
but what you didn’t realize at the time
I was the shadow of your shining
whenever you approached the earth
like Venus on a moonless night.
But how remote it all seems now.
Encounters of the human kind
reverting like the unploughed fields around here
to something intimately alien and wild.
We embodied all these stars once.
We stood here on this mountain once together
and breathed these vacant interstellar spaces in
as if we could hold all of space and time
like a single drop of insight
into the circuitous blossoming
of our riverine hearts
and oceanic minds.
And what myth of spring fish
could fathom our depths
though it jump like Pisces into the boat?
Up here in my eagle-eyed eyrie
do these receding hills at my feet
remember anything as vividly as I do
as the sound of your voice when you spoke
and the mountain came down prophetically
like an avalanche of stone tablets
across the ups and downs
of the road that led us up here
to look into the empty beyond
as far as the light
we were given given to go by
whether it be the hundred billion stars
of Messier thirty-one
two million light-years away
like the sister galaxy you are to me tonight
just this smudge of light at eleven o’clock
above the middle star
of the constellation Andromeda
or a firefly in the spider mount of a parabolic mirror.
Sometimes you can notice things more clearly
that you can see head on at the time
out of the corner of your eye
as you look away from your line of sight
astronomical units of light later.
I have come back to those moments
from so long ago
like time with an expanded field of vision
of wildflowers dying all over the mountain
like cornflowers in the grave of a Neanderthal
incarnadined by red ochre
though none were ever buried here
we still share this common ground of death
or Indian tobacco at the eastern gates of the burial hut
of an Algonquin who once stood here as I did
and gazed upon the moon in wonder
estranged by the wound of the rapture
just moments before he disappeared for good
into the bone-box of his having been here once
to amaze his solitude with precipitous stars
looking up from the godless pulpit of Spy Rock.
The cedars sway in the wind
like children learning to swim beside a pool
ploughing the air with their arms.
And the shadows tremble
like the waters of life
inside the heartwood of a rootless tree
the moon ripples with forgotten springs
that once made the fish jump at fireflies
wavelengths out of reach of their eyes.
Sight is a kind of love.
As above so below
like the palindrome of the moon goddess Anna
in the Arabic jana
the English heaven
and the Greek ouranos
Romanized into Uranus analeptically.
O what a brutal exchange.
All that life and light and love
all those stars
all that seeing
just to exhume a few dead metaphors
and breathe a little life into them
as if you were giving
mouth to mouth
heart to heart
spirit to spirit
resuscitation to words
that once saw their whole life flash before them
before they drowned
up to their necks and out of their depths in stars.