A classmate of mine recently got his poem “Astronomy” published in the national literary journal The Blue Route, which is pretty awesome. His name is Zachary Riddle and you can read more about him at the bottom of this blog entry.
I decided to talk about “Astronomy,” because why the Hell not. Most poems I’ve talked about in Poetry Tuesday so far have been written by people who are dead by now. It’s time I changed gears a little.
Astronomy – Zachary Riddle
I am stoneskinned in the wake of you—infested, nightmared,
a scarecrow in a barren field, sunsore and crucified, nails pierced
through hayweed veins. At dawn, tasked with creation,
I leave the city lightless
and blindly run my fingers across the bridge of your nose,
slowly skim the thin of your upper lip, the small of your thumb,
the whole of your lower back. I sew myself into your treeborn
body, make seams between our myths and merge—
one fractured cosmos with another. You trace the fire
between fjord and shipdeck and tell me:
The sun rises and sets within two hours in Antarctica.
Under swollen red stars, I explain that I’ve lived
below Orion’s Belt my entire life, that I’ve only
seen the Southern sky in photographs.
To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t know how to analyze Riddle’s poem; this is one of those times when I don’t fully “understand” it but I like it, because it has beautiful diction, smooth lines and such abstract imagery. The voice here makes me feel as though the speaker is an otherworldly being answering the question, “So how was your day?” Since it’s called ‘Astronomy,’ my guess is that the speaker is somehow the cosmos itself… it’s not literally a scarecrow in a barren field, but an object of mystery and fear for us human beings.
Maybe I’m saying that just because recently I began watching Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s The Cosmos and thinking of that episode when he talked about the scientists who were scorned (crucified, nails pierced) for studying the sky and making claims such as the Earth is not the center of the universe and there are more galaxies like our own in existence. I especially get that from tasked with creation, because life itself started out in space – the Big Bang, the expansion of the universe, rocks colliding with each other – but this line also talks about the beginning of the day, the sun rising.
My favorite sentence is: I sew myself into your treeborn/ body, make seams between our myths and merge–/ one fractured cosmos with another. I might be all alone in this interpretation, but it makes me think of the phrase, “God is in everything,” and the idea that even though everything in the cosmos looks so chaotic on the outside, everything and everyone is still connected. There is a system behind every movement, behind evolution, behind birth and so forth. That’s probably the agnostic in me talking.
Either way, it’s an amazing poem and I love reading it. Perhaps it’s more important to say how it makes us feel rather than trying to come up with explanation for what it means.