There are still songs to sing beyond humankind.
___ —Paul Celan
A glaucoma of stone narrows the night
to a light-flecked slit of iris sky
where Jupiter slurs an oblique passage,
hauling his high court to Halley’s applause—
cosmic debris showers the mesosphere
with faint scratches of ephemeral light.
The scene wheels across my keyhole of earth,
or rather, time—tail visible, trailing
through tinted stratums, the eons unveiled
in the annals of water’s slow caress.
The water’s caress, fleeting Arabic
of the hummingbird, floating to flower;
the windblown journey of the arctic tern,
blue whales breaching at twilight, deep spirals
of interstellar bodies—migrations
by which I live, quietly unaware,
perceiving less than I can fathom,
I name more than I can know. Breath by breath
I am eclipsed; my days diffused like dusk,
falling on the gauze of a mayfly’s wing.
A mayfly’s wing, lilting on the river,
spinning over stones, adrift on swift song.
The symphony echoes in far gardens,
behind doors, on stars dead before our birth—
What name do we give the note after awe?
The night narrows to a man’s face, aglow
as he stirs the last embers, his thoughts
like one who steps out onto a terrace
at dawn, above a city of dark spires,
then turns back, toward a century of sleep.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.