To find a star you have to know
Just how far the eye should go:

Ascending left, declining right,
To bring the region into sight,

As if it took opposing talents
To keep a universe in balance,

Like waves that move a random tide
Steadily from side to side,

Or ripples in an upset tub,
That need a rim to bounce off of:

A model of our cosmic calling
(To mitigate our rise with falling),

The lilt and roll of rhythms rising:
Drifts that keep us from capsizing.

December 20th, 2002
Redone January 12th and August 27th, 2003


A telescope uses setting circles to pinpoint the location of stars. There is an axis, a grid, whose x and y values, their length and height, are called instead declination and ascension. So both fall and rise must be combined to fix a star in place, to see it.
If one extrapolates a bit from this simple description of how we locate space, it follows that there must be a bit of yin and yang, a tug of war, to form a fact or to fix a place. We ascend and we decline, and in the middle, we balance.
Three other poems of mine are about balance (“Angle of Repose I” and “II,” “Seesaw”).

December 20th, 2002,
11:25 - –11:47 am