Astrology teaches that stars have meaning,
lights have cause, effect.
When I was a kid,
looking for the lost treasure of Joaquin Moraga
through storm drains under the hills,
sometimes the darkness would get me.
In my parent’s yard, the pool
reflected the candle light
from a clay minaret they had.
It was a spell my father made;
he would someday ride the Khyber Mail.
Shadows of fence and hills made it possible.
Ursa Minor is tied to a post,
turning around Polaris.
Is it my eyes that are fading?
Was it easier to see those stars
in the old darkness? Were they brighter?
Maybe the sky was blacker.
I can afford new lenses if I work
long and hard for The Company.
Doctors will tell me
if my eyes are getting worse.
And insurance will pay for part
of the work at the appointed time.
By buildings, in alleys,
street lamps don’t reach.
Dark patches open up sky
for the garbage. Shadows have the beauty
of dangers unseen. Cops will roust
back into the lights.
Between cities, land is owned;
you must not stop too long. Headlights
from passing cars push at eyes.
They move from one ghetto
of wire-filaments to the next vacuum:
angry photons in an energy jump.
Alone in the darkness as the retina-burn fades,
an answer to blindness opens in the sky.
The black cranium of night is awash with synaptic fire,
just before falling away from sharpness,
back into the shadows of light.
The universe is still there.
No need for The Company’s wage
to buy the reason behind the loss of sight.
The horizon is marked by cities,
floating skulls of fluorescent pallor
confusing the image of sky.
They’re stealing my stars.
first published in Living With a Stranger: self portrait, 1993.