THE FROGMORE POETRY PRIZE 2002

 
Lynne Wycherley
CAROLINE HERSCHEL’S VIGIL
 
                    I
Who but an angel can scale the stars?
The telescope aims its cannon.
I watch my brother climb the rungs.
He rains numbers, crumbs from heaven.
I scurry to collect them,
busy as a mouse at the ladder’s base.

Each night he pans, rides meridians;
each day I sweat the figures
into sense and grind fresh mirrors,
speculum-metal worked from its cast,
the cambers smooth, exact.

I polish as if erasing myself.
Better this than the glass in the hall:
it cuts me at the neck. I see
a goblin, a pygmy shrew, the child
typhus wizened in its grasp.

                    II
My thoughts sway on their solitary root.
The house breathes around me,
night’s bloom. I dream
of a stranger with blue-white hair,
pristine, iconic, a flying star.

I tilt my face to the circled dark,
a porthole on the summer stars.
I search the archipelagos of space
for a flare among the rocks,
a tern’s feather on black velvet.

The darkness swings its slow wheel.
I see a ghost – a blaze of frost
so blue it stops my breath.
Silking the sky for three brief nights.
Indelible. Touching my life.


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