An Old Poet Sees a New Star

When they tell me nobody can describe it but me,
They mean they want to be told what to think.

They use the right words, confidently,
With bold excited precision;
Children using scientists’ words for monsters.
Those words taste strange to my tongue
Pressed into prominence
Like similies thwacked home hard:
How terribly green blood really is
When it spurts out unstoppably!

To see it, I have to get up before dawn.
I ask them if they know how old I am,
If they know I am six times a grandmother,
If they understand the poetry is about moments
That fall in an ordinary life
Love, death, homesickness,
Pink sky, gold grass, green blood,
The raised spine-crests of strangers walking away.

We stand wrapped in shawls, the desert night cold,
Heads craning upwards, eyes on stars.
I am burning my lower left hand on honey-locusts
Anyone would think it was sports night.
My neck is stiff, my feet are freezing,
I am too old for this —
Until it rises over the rooftops
And the city falls silent.

Orbits, they said. Aliens, they said.
Indescribable they said.
How? When? How far? What for?
Whence? Wherefore? Why?

Questions without answers fail
And we stand still wordless
We watch this sudden sullen spark of light
As our world becomes our planet.

February 2002, first poem written in Montreal.