Wednesday, November 9, 2011



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

then disappeared.

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.

Semi-hibernating raccoons

and the occasional brown bear

looking for a last snack before sleep

before snow

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.