To Jupiter, Venus, and the Moon in Conjunction
1 December 2008
You have no similitude, ye gods of heaven
in this Advent night:
you are not, nor resemble, eyes
or jewels or flames of intellect:
to my poor senses little more
than holes torn in the dark-night-of-the-soul
upholstered ceiling of the sky
through which the Empyrean peeps.
Yet I see those planets through layers, like a lens:
a thousand pages from a hundred books
between my vision and their light,
papyrus, parchment, vellum, ink and print
between this nighttime glory and my sight.
Colored by association
with the wisdom of the ancient mind,
with a mountain of mythology,
a wider and more devout imagination
that read the heavens—read them to me:
read their personalities
and souse me in their influence!
Gashes of God-light
dousing my open skull.
Peel them back, these chapters of personification,
make thin the mystery.
But I cannot see the source.
Where is the Urtext for the stars?
When did Jove become the king of gods?
How did those little Greeks, untelescoped,
know he went garmented in royal red,
bled from a giant’s wound, the largest of the heavenlies
and heavy with the arbitration of his ring—his crown?
Who told Homer Aphrodite wore a womb-like atmosphere,
was soft for love, was beautiful in mists and sea-foam airs?
The dust-cold Luna, I suppose,
looks barren in her secondary light
and strings her tidal bow
and lets her maddening shafts
at women’s loins and madmen’s eyeballs—
But how did Norsemen measure Saturn’s aged pace?
They could not catch his frost across the light-years.
Or weaponed Gaels see the Martial red when they looked over
Hadrian’s wall at bloody Roman fields?
The pattern, somehow, the star-field dance,
was like a text. Was less than words,
and therefore more: was poetry.
Was story, and had characters.
A seed without a mother, an unfathered thought
conceiving and repeating, painting deities
on the Sistine ceiling of the sky.
And every figurine foreshadows truth.
For how else could they now, and thus, converge?
Majesty, Virginity, and Love:
how fitting, how exact. They close the circle.
For only once in every human life,
this time of year when every leaf is sheathed with glass,
these gods draw near to offer their Noël.