The Truth about Starlight

This poem won First place in 2-Day Poem Contest 2015

Last days of a semester spent teaching language, the semantics

of signifiers, to students, online 24/7, their minds soaking 

in a marinade of abbreviated voices, twitter and text

rendering the creating, the slow disembarking of words 

on the page as outdated as the Maytag Man, appliances 

past their best-before date left to rust in the rain. Outside,

the April sky is a bloated gray, ice pelting the windshield

as I turn off the highway, the honk of geese in the distance, 

horses still in winter blankets nuzzling the ground as though 

despite Spring lapsed there is something to be found. The past 

few months, I’ve driven this road, harp lessons once a week 

teaching me how to balance the harp on my shoulder; my fingers 

on the strings, over and over, trying to stencil mechanics, the scrawl 

on the staff, in my brain. A beauty I can make so little of 

though I practice, nights in my office, the harp rising 

like a wave above the books, poems on my desk: a voice 

mirrored in words that stutter out, or crawl, ham-handed, 

weighted with a charge they cannot put down. Late now,

the sky is still, the clouds blown over. In the window, stars,

their pyrite shine, geese, far off and calling. The harp 

in the middle of the room, nothing to lose. Seahorse or satellite –

that single long gleam – I see myself, faked out, fool’s gold, bending 

strings to sound.