A Cosmology Expands Around You by Eleanor Lerman

A Cosmology Expands Around You

Turning the page, you have the thoughts that would
come to anyone encountering that forgotten photograph
of an adventurous man in a canoe, with his daughters
They are on a north country river in a golden summer
Golden sunlight, golden girls

Oh well. Things change. Time passes. And then a sigh—
like a sigh in a an old painting, perhaps a pastoral—identifies
how the moment ends, how nostalgia enters and fades away
Oh well. We must go on. Oh yes indeed: mysteriously, if we
live on, even sadness passes. (“Can you believe he died a
decade ago? That nowadays the younger one can
barely remember how to get to the supermarket?)
Bear in mind, though, that nothing really replaces it,
that sadness. Never. Nothing at all

Instead, a cosmology expands around you
Yes, you heard right: the cosmos expands to embrace you
but don’t expect that you will know when this is happening:
you won’t be enlightened. Your back will still hurt
and your dog will not suddenly start speaking to you
When you fall asleep at night, your dreams will still be
confusing. Not prophetic. Quite the same

This is because “a cosmology” does not mean a revelation
or even an awareness of universal truths. After all, we cannot
bank on the idea that there are any.(Or that this is a
group effort, this life, these memories) Still, it is possible
that one or two individual constants will begin to
make themselves known to you when the time comes
No one in their right mind can predict when that will be

Though it can’t hurt to try. Start by lifting up your face
to your old friend, the moon, who has been watching you
The moon has a lot it wants to tell you: how it woke up
all alone in a cave before there was fire. How it marveled
when an unseen hand created the ox and lamb.
(That’s correct: even the moon has no idea how life began)

And how it wept when it saw the pyramids. How it weeps still
How nowadays, to relieve a little tension, it sometimes likes to
dress like a golden-hearted boy and wander down the
city boulevards, going nowhere special. In other words,
the moon itself is surprised by what it sees and what it does
By how afraid it is, at dawn, to close its eyes

So rehearse this phrase: I don’t know what’s going on
but maybe I’m not supposed to. Then, come summertime
again—and yes, don’t worry, in the way we talk about
what happens, it always comes again—there will be
another river. And an adventurous girl will smile and smile
when the moon leans out of its side of this story, out of
the nighttime into the expanding light and waves to you
It waves good-bye, good-bye

by Eleanor Lerman

Editor’s Note: When grief arrives, it leaves one feeling just a bit off-balance. This poem’s inconsistent punctuation takes a clean narrative voice and upends clarity. Everything seems to make sense, but it no longer fits quite right, either. Sorrow feels like this… until it doesn’t.

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