“Disappearing Borders” by Lynne Knight

Lynne Knight


We stood in the plaza at City Hall
near Henry Moore’s archer, staring up
at the big screen, waiting for men
to land on the moon. We were stoned,
a little, as we often were, not so much
that we couldn’t manage our lives
or walk quietly along Toronto streets,
rarely drawing attention to ourselves
except with my daughter’s backpack,
handmade, suede, a crudely fused
metal frame. Enough of a novelty in 1969
that earlier in the afternoon two old women
at the Kensington Market shouted
I would ruin my baby’s legs, or I think
that’s what they shouted, in Italian,
their Russian friends joining in, a chorus
of languages, & now we were waiting
for men to land on the moon where
no word had ever been spoken,
though the moon made one cameo
appearance after another in the poems
we wrote then, symbol of time, symbol
of eternity, the night moon, day moon,
the moon as fingernail, as lemon slice,
as sliver, as silver, go ahead & invent
your own simile or metaphor, the famous
poet instructed us, but pay attention to
the risk—put the moon in a poem, pretty
soon your dead grandfather might show up,
or your cold mother, or whoever it is you find
difficult because there it is, stony, implacable,
unchanging except as we see it in phases.
But what did he know? A man was about
to walk on the moon, say something
universal enough to allow all people to share
the triumph, no matter their language,
my daughter babbling, bouncing against
my back as Armstrong did it, pushed out
of the Eagle, took the first step, spoke—
& there we were, applauding as if he could
hear us, as if there were no distance between us
& the moon, no borders against human progress.

from Poets Respond
July 21, 2019


Lynne Knight: “I was a new mother fifty years ago, a hippie in Toronto, and reflecting back, I’m struck by how much of the optimism and hope we felt then has been darkened or eclipsed today. I continue to believe we can achieve things across or despite borders—I’m sure many of the NASA scientists who worked on the Apollo mission were immigrants! It’s heartbreaking to see the frenzy being whipped up against ‘the other’ when we’re all here together on the same planet, subject to the moon’s gravitational pull.” (web)

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