IN LIES LIE BELIEFS
He’d seen the moon, how could you miss it,
the brightness, its rotational persistence.
But the stars, that was something else entirely,
a separate story, you could go for years
without them, and he had, until tonight,
he doesn’t know why but tonight
he’d looked for them … oh,
it was because he’d wondered whether it would rain,
that was all, and he’d looked up at a dark gray
expansive sky, then shifted his gaze
until he saw one, a bright star, there’s another,
light years apart. But not very many.
He still didn’t know if it would rain,
but he realized that he’d said he’d seen a star,
and thought it would be a good idea
to start looking at them once it was dark.
None of that constellation incandescence,
he thought he should just find a star.
It was just one more body he’d never get to,
but he didn’t think it could be a bad thing,
to look at a star. Some stars you couldn’t look at,
like the sun, but these others, possibly
much larger, much brighter, with light
that was so old you’d only read about it,
a bright light you couldn’t read by.
Which was not to ignore the moon though;
It stepped in front of the stars and
outshone them, even after its long
estrangement, even with its borrowed light,
he knew that much, or thought so, the moon
had no light of its own, neither do we,
but just couldn’t, or wouldn’t, admit it.
Luminosity was just a lie it told itself.
Us too; still we say we’ve seen the moon.
—from Poets Respond
December 13, 2020
Bruce Robinson: “It’s a metaphor for starting a poem: we don’t know what we don’t know, but we know enough to know we’re learning how much we don’t know. Few among us are particle physicists, but there’s something magical about looking at, and seeing what we think are, sun, moon, and stars.”