When all New York went unimaginably dark
a man looked up and said “I see the stars!”
Everyone nearby craned necks,
set down their briefcases and parcels,
exchanged pleased glances, dabbed at sweaty faces.
What else might be revealed? Nothing is simple.
Far, far beneath the city lie the ancient fens,
trickles of tributaries, boundaries of farms,
deep dust of graveyards with their modest markers,
and who can say what dormant seeds,
what once-known trees and flowers?
Paving it over hides it from our sight, yet our minds,
(plunging past tunnels, cables, subterranean seas),
retain it still, etched fine, waiting for welcome home,
just as the stars we’ve blinded with our light
still pulse, throb, twinkle, mapping out the space
we think to enter without thinking twice.
You knew that map before you learned your own –
bones, sinews, tributaries branching blood –
your stories named the planets and the zodiac,
the Magellanic star-clouds of the south,
felt the magnetic pull and named
the North Star, sailed oceans by her light.
Wait then a moment, while behind your eyes
the earth so far below your feet takes shape,
rolls out to the horizons on all sides
until it meets the radiance of these skies:
this architecture cradles you in place
while showers of starlight bathe your upturned face.
Next day, we hear of parties in the street,
neighbors embracing, silence turned to speech,
multitudes sleeping on their still-warm roofs
to see the sky, tell its old tales,
watch it turning, turning.
The radiance. The radiance.