by Murray Alfredson
The owls rebuked me. Silent as stars they came
on still wings, lit wings, bellies agleam from street-
and park-lamps; stars they were, those strong, those
silently ongliding points of brightness.
They took them forms of birds in approaching, fleet
and silent birds commanding the shadowed park;
that silence, rippling rush of silence,
called on the sensitive ear to hark them.
The stars are gods, they tell us of old, so far,
so vast they cannot know that we men have hearts.
From sea, from mountaintop we see them
(moon set or hidden, and all else blackness).
They thrust long spears though ages of empty dark,
sharp points of light that tremor against our eye;
and steeled restraint of vibrant shoulders
coldly compels us to kneel and worship.
But who would dream to gaze from the noise of streets,
the blaze of lamp and neon, toward the sky?
We’ve pitched a tent of glare above us,
shielding ourselves from those night-honed lances.
Yet still the high gods come, in a kinder form:
they slip beneath our dome of defense as hawks
of night and haunt the air around us,
patiently calling our eye and wonder.
How many, many nights have you flown above
and I not seen you, gods in the flesh? How long
had you to wait before my heart’s door?
Brain was so buzzing, I failed to hear you.