Fortune Often Met within the Train of Reason

(Amateur Astronomy 5)

I sought you in the Sea of Shadows, I looked for you on the Lake of Tears. Many a crater I crossed named for a body of water with neither body nor water to be found. I followed the whorl as if patterns always mark the reasonable path. The decedents marching slowly along the stacks reminded me that the exile passes through hell before finally seeing the stars, so I peered into the coal sack, which was like staring into night, and the cat’s eye, which was like staring into night. I peeled back the veil and called to the ghost, I spent hours watching the engraved hourglass. I tracked the arc of Suprematism across the erstwhile heavens, and the refractions offered little relief. Next time, Dante, just look up. If art is born of pain, leave me artless with the butterfly and the tarantula, with their unreliable reflections in the pond, the soup, the drink. I discovered nothing but the faith that behind each nothing there’s a light, a wave, a burst making its way in silent joy across creation, with the patience of catastrophe. I know it is coming with an important message just for me.


Benjamin Paloff‘s books include the poetry collections And His Orchestra (2015) and The Politics (2011), both from Carnegie Mellon. His poems have appeared in Boston Review, Conduit, New American Writing, The New York Review of Books, The Paris Review, and others. Twice a fellow of the NEA, he is associate professor of comparative literature at the University of Michigan.


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