ORTHDOX SOPHROSYNE

I shall discard their major preservation,
All that they know so long as no one asks.

~W.H. Auden, For the Time Being

Men left a golf ball on the moon–
litter on her pocked and dusty face.
Betelgeuse could hold a billion Earths
and still have room.  The poet David
considered the Heavens and stood
amazed at the dome of stars,
home of angels and gods,
amazed that humans matter.

Dark matter weighs
more than what we know.
Dark energy holds
the whole thing in.
What’s so odd about
a multitude of gods?

O, Pluto and Persephone!
Chernobog, Grandmother of Beetles!

Under the Earth the shades of the dead,
root, and worm, fire and stone.
Here on the skin, trees and wind.
Up in the Heavens, a billion billion stars.

Jupiter, Venus, way up there–
Thor and Nanook, hear my prayer.

What does it mean to love?
Out here in the dark does it matter?  Hell,
give me chocolate cake and cheap gasoline.
I want a telescope of my own.
I want someone to remember my childhood name.
I want a raven to come when I call.
I want a grandchild before I die.

O, Spider Woman, Shiva, Grandpa Oak Tree,
Brigid, Loki, Ab Kin Zoc,

What do you want from me?

I’ll offer sacrifice:
burn my mother’s letters,
give away all coats but one.
I’ll bury my journals and earrings
and smash the teacups on the walk.
Already I feed wild birds
and remember the birthdays of my friends.
I’m thinking of reading to the blind.

Will that make a difference?
Green Tara?  Mother of Trolls?
Odin?   Pan?  Epimetheus?
Jesus, lover of our souls?

I can’t count to one billion.
An acre of cattails makes a trillion seeds.
I can’t define humankind.
A gorilla is learning to play the flute.

Vesta, Durga, Horus, Kuan Ti,
Eostre,  Manito, Mary, Loki,
Twinkle, twinkle, Brother Star,
can you tell me what we are?

Bowerbirds build beautiful houses;
Ichneumonid wasps change spider’s brains.
Rebirth?  A piece of cake.
Gods.  Elves.  Spirits of the dead.
My body recomposed,
my neighbor as myself.

Betelgeuse is getting ready to go.
Four billion years and our Sun goes, too,
out to where the dead suns go–
with our houseplants and graves, letters, spoons and blogs.
Nothing but ashes and a million broken gods.

Everything matters.
I think I have to love you all.

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