Reading the Sky by Peg Duthie

Reading the Sky

for Mary Alexandra Agner

To seek eclipses–to prize things in the way,
the partial views and full-bore speculation
about what transits mean, what they mean to say

and whether to put stock in such a day
thick with pseudo-expert conversation–
is that what we yearn for, when we weigh

sunshine vs. frost, leaven stubborn clay
with compost and peat? Will germination
greet us before we’re ready? Who can say

they haven’t taken shortcuts, tried to stay
time’s ruthless march toward annihilation,
and learned that even when there’s will, the way

is sometimes not to be? But one can sway
and strut through shadows too. The rotation
of the earth can be measured, scholars say,

by notes on BCE eclipses. May
there be more data, more observation,
stamina past slurs, high roads past “My Way”-

riddled swamps. When I lay me down to pray,
“Deliver us, Lord, from obfuscation,”
it’s shorthand for a list as long as day.

I long for happy endings–that to pay
one’s dues pans out, that skilled navigation
will steer us out of darkness, lead the way
to answers true as stars, that save the day.

by Peg Duthie

Editor’s Note: This is a quasinelle (fortunately, the poet tells me these things, because I had not heard of this form). This poem’s repetition is skillfully handled, leading the reader through the poem instead of into dead ends.

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One thought on “Reading the Sky by Peg Duthie

  1. Pingback: Strange Horizons - Stranger Horizons, March 2017 By Niall Harrison

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