Sunday, September 5, 2010

Last Night I Saw the Stars

In this old creaky senile corner of Detroit
Of late the wires behind the residences smoke
Or display fireworks and we are told, “Avoid
Getting too near because if that there cable broke
It’ll come flying and it could electrocute
The careless stander by. And our ambulances
Can’t get here fast in this here time of the commute.”

After three, four such vivid events—sparks at night
Smoke by day—loss of power has now been organized.
Outages are timed, at ten a.m. or at midnight,
They’re unannounced so that we may still be surprised
Unless we’ve learned to note and mark a subtle sign;
It’s the appearance of a little red Honda generator.
Chained to a pole it feeds a box from its turbine.

A little Honda generator? Thanks Japan,
We needed that. Edison needs power too
To feed a panel there to read, record, and scan
The progress of its contractors as these aspire
To find the ancient flaw, transform the transformer,
Cut the branches, string new black and unfrayed wire—
And this as cooling fails and it’s just getting warmer.

Last night the power failed right at the witching hour
(The little Honda had arrived; saw it today.)
Flashlights guided us to bed without a shower,
But never mind, it’d been an almost frigid day.
Outside in the silent dark I saw the planet Mars
And lots and lots of strange white shiny glimmers.
In time I realized that I was seeing stars.

1 comment:

  1. During a power outage when the night is pitchblack and the sky is clear, watching stars, not the dancing ones on TV, is be far more uplifting.

    Thanks for a lovely poem!