A Plea

O My Sisters

For Arab seers in the desert night,

watching the arc of the heavens

wheel around that northern star.

Night after night they tracked the

motion of the stars, and called the brightest

Altair and Vega, Deneb and Al-debaran

its burning red above the sand.


If I went searching for my own twin

I would never have to look so faraway as I see now

seeing light that started here so many years ago.


For Robert Burnham in his tower on Lowell Mountain

For Timothy Ferris and a wheeling photo of Andromeda,

place of a trillion stars,

whose light is alabaster and beauty,

and so many worlds you could count away your life.


One man thinks our sun was born

among a thousand growing stars,

and over years—as each one orbited the black hole

centre of the galaxy—those suns dispersed,

the gravity-tossed children of the Milky Way.


Some, lighter, drifted out into the arm of Orion,

others wandered up into the empty quarter


above the galactic plane. And there were those

most massive and blue-white

burned supernova,

and for seconds outshone everything,

and they were cinders and gone

and they were lost to each other.


O my sisters

when only one star’s burning in this empty place

and language ends and here is dark,

and everywhere is far


When the days grow short, we worry needlessly

and the kindness of strangers destroys us



My sisters

when love has not found us

when we are driving without map or destination

when we stop being beautiful even to ourselves


O my sisters


this song for you

that in your darkness you may hear

that in your solitude grows heat


O my sisters.


Ian and Louise perform this at