Nox Oculis

Alan Shapiro

Alan Shapiro enseigne la littérature anglaise à l'Université de Caroline du Nord et vit à Chapel Hill. Il détient un diplôme de la Brandeis University à Waltham au Massachusetts. Shapiro a reçu plusieurs prix locaux et nationaux dont le prix du livre de poésie du Los Angeles Times ainsi que des bourses du National Endowment for the Arts et du Guggenheim Fellowship.

Astronomy Lesson

    The two boys lean out on the railing
    of the front porch, looking up.
    Behind them they can hear their mother
    in one room watching "Name That Tune",
    their father in another watching
    a Walter Cronkite Special, the TVs
    turned up high and higher till they
    each can't hear the other's show.
    The older boy is saying that no matter
    how many stars you counted there were
    always more stars beyond them
    and beyond the stars black space
    going on forever in all directions,
    so that even if you flew up
    millions and millions of years
    you'd be no closer to the end
    of it than they were now
    here on the porch on Tuesday night
    in the middle of summer.
    The younger boy can think somehow
    only of his mother's closet,
    how he likes to crawl in back
    behind the heavy drapery
    of shirts, nightgowns and dresses,
    into the sheer black where
    no matter how close he holds
    his hand up to his face
    there's no hand ever, no
    face to hold it to.

    A woman from another street
    is calling to her stray cat or dog,
    clapping and whistling it in,
    and farther away deep in the city
    sirens now and again
    veer in and out of hearing.

    The boys edge closer, shoulder
    to shoulder now, sad Ptolemies,
    the older looking up, the younger
    as he thinks back straight ahead
    into the black leaves of the maple
    where the street lights flicker
    like another watery skein of stars.
    "Name That Tune" and Walter Cronkite
    struggle like rough water
    to rise above each other.
    And the woman now comes walking
    in a nightgown down the middle
    of the street, clapping and
    whistling, while the older boy
    goes on about what light years
    are, and solar winds, black holes,
    and how the sun is cooling
    and what will happen to
    them all when it is cold.

    Alan Shapiro

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