(Ryan Hutton/Unsplash)

Standing at night on the betrayed Earth,
it appears the universe is overhead.

Idols, broken tablets, sacred books preserve
fragments of what was said in conversation

with gods as wild as the stars, who reigned
in a firmament unpolluted by city lights.

Did the ancients think in some figurative way
that black holes formed when godheads went extinct?

Unlike the heavenly father, God himself, whose face
remains hidden by constellations as he gazes down

through clouds and circling birds, explosions,
and the plumes of raging fires, concerned, 

or angered or merely curious about the hubbub
from below, on yet another blessed day

above us in the blue, and underfoot the dead.

Stuart Dybek’s most recent book of poems is Streets in Their Own Ink (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). He’s also the author of six books of fiction, including Paper Lantern: Love Stories.

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Published in the March 2023 issue: View Contents
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