Poetry Advent Calendar Day 11

Taken from Moths that Drink the Tears of Sleeping Birds, a memoir about the loss of his mother to Alzheimers, John B. Lee’s poem “Stawrwatchers” is about more than just grief.


The Starwatchers


we were a sextet
of curious humans
three generations of starwatchers
gazing up
at the brilliant embers
of night-black heaven
blazing over the small island
off the coast of Cuba
a gauze-thin cloud
drifting across moonlight
like smoke
from the burning mind of Galileo Galilee
and I
the solitary expert
only of the most obvious
celestial bodies
naming the small dipper
the belt of Orion
the planet Venus
goddess of the distant horizon
Aphrodite standing on her shell
far out in the wine-dark sea
all her great desires
revealed in light
the milky luminosity of her breasts
and the waves that trace her hips
like foam upon the combers
in the shoals
where reef and shallows
meet and break in a deep blue line

but I am contemplating loss
with my father
gone and my mother
gone – vanishing into those mortal moments
of impossible memory and forgotten dream

oh Copernicus
and though the common sky
seems overfilled
there’s darkness in the well
while thirst draws forth this cup of words
splashing every particle
of knowledge into dust
the genius of time has stolen love
and set the stillness of two silent hearts
like stones beyond my reach

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