It’s so clear tonight, and calm,
that if I stepped outside,
and raised my head, I imagine
I could see the silver
chest hairs of Orion,
the hummingbird tattoo upon
the outside of his thigh.
And further back, the unfathomable
dark, which make it possible for him
to draw his bow,
and gives him room to choose
a target for the night.
So I remember the luxury of what
I’ve had the poor taste in the past
to call, sometimes, our loneliness,
which is the absence of others
who have left us stranded here,
with only oxygen to breathe
and nothing more than time
to breathe it in.
And I honor, for a moment, the million
things forgotten, the things
which have so graciously
forgotten me – the bulging
saddlebags of history, the myriad, self-cancelling
blunders and eurekas
of fathers and mothers
of fathers and mothers and fathers –
who have handed down something
of tremendous importance
by handing down nothing
but plenty of quite and dark.
And in the fields of sky above our houses,
hieroglyphics, open to
our own interpretation.
from the collection, Verse & Universe Poems About Science and Mathematics, Edited by Kurt Brown
Born on November 19, 1953, in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Tony Hoagland is the author of witty, poingnant poems that comment on contemporary American life and culture.
His books of poetry include Unincorporated Personas in the Late Honda Dynasty (Graywolf Press, 2010); What Narcissism Means to Me (2003), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Donkey Gospel (1998), which received the James Laughlin Award; and Sweet Ruin (1992), chosen by Donald Justice for the 1992 Brittingham Prize in Poetry and winner of the Zacharis Award from Emerson College.