Imagine what they saw—without
pollution, skyscrapers or city lights...
Dim candles across galaxies, each its own
crystal sphere beyond which was god
and his angels: the Aristotelian diagrams,
Aquinas and Dante make Russian nesting
dolls of the universe—what did skin
feel like all those centuries ago?
What did eyes see in depth of darkness?
What fate could they read in the sky’s
constant calendars? A distant field
is the furthest I can reach: every night,
I used to lie back against the grassy mud
so I could see nothing but stars, know
nothing but the speckled lights
crossing the distance between past
and promise—the fiery longing
for a beyond so bright it might eclipse
the usual answers, common gods.
Until airplanes and fireflies pierced
the night, the grass coarse against
my fingers that started to dig for pebbles,
hard and dark as the unfathomable
past and its fiery future, unknowable.