It is a Father’s Tale
Time out of time I carried you in your dressing gown
downstairs out into the moonless night.
We gazed at a thousand suns studding the sky;
meandering along back lanes I lifted your arm
to point at Orion, drifting above rooftops.
We drew a ‘w’ and a triangle in the dark bowl,
traced a hunter’s belt and coloured in a lion,
a charioteer, a plough and a little bear.
I didn’t know then that you’d drift out of reach
when I reached for the thousand and one stories
to keep you listening – to keep you where
trolls, giants and goats sleep under bridges.
Another one for National Poetry Day. I used to do a fair bit of amateur astronomy so this is where this poem came from.
There was an astronomy book, titled, Turn Left at Orion!
Turn left at Orion – forty years ago
I tried my best to follow directions
but the vast empty spaces proved
difficult to navigate. The hero’s belt pointed somwhere:
go straight on at Gemini, turn right at Taurus; going by the book
I was at home splitting double stars and measuring
eclipsing binaries, but still wobbled
when I came down to earth. How I longed
to feel solid ground beneath my feet.
Today I wander into my back yard and greet
constant Orion again but know eventually
the pattern will change, that his belt will loosen,
that even a Greek hero will drift apart.