Like Stars in the Daylight
I grant you ample leave
To use the hoary formula ‘I am’,
Naming the emptiness where thought is not
– George Eliot
Had we been born on a planet
that always keeps one face to the sun
(as Mercury was once thought to do)
We might have breathed a rich lifetime
all in Daylight.
So how might we have responded
if some mountebank conjurer told us there were stars?
Not just stars, but nebulae, black holes spouting bright plumes of plasma,
And a million million pinwheels in the sky…
A polite and patronizing smile perhaps,
on a good day; scorn otherwise.
Bourdillon had it exactly backward.
The soul has a thousand eyes,
all rendered blind
by the glare of the mind.
The senses, the hormones, the nerves of the brain–
Endlessly screaming with pleasure and pain
Prevent us from sensing aught else.
Must we wait on those who return from the dead
To tell us who we are?
Who we are when we are not thinking,
Not feeling our bodies
Pulled nor by sense nor by wrenching emotion
From the glorious expanse
of our very own
— Josh Mitteldorf