Anthony Deaton

The Astronomer, 1668

            Do you see me through the window?

Here, half-clothed in sunfall and half

            again in the cool summer shade of my room,

                        I am at work on heaven.


                        The heavens, rather, since on this globe,

            rotate those star-leanings known now

by astronomers everywhere, and not that divine

            circular vision filtered through a quaking


            human heart.  No, this is a firmament we can

                        count on, a material radiance, not the fanciful

            exaltations and distempered longings of Soul.

Isn’t the mapping beautiful


in and of itself?  Spherical,

            clasped at each axis by a bronze pin,

                        a pearl-painted shell on which are pricked

            blue five-cornered suns.  There is Orion, there Ursa


            Minor, and hundreds of yet unappellated

constellations holding their still course

            across a world of their own:  this

                        universe, this bauble—truth


                        and an image of truth.

I’ve borrowed from the night so

today the skies stand at my elbow,

            glowing with afternoon light.  And I

            can reach out, my hand’s width

                        spanning it, nearly, and palm

            the star’s untouchable steerage,

like a god.  Watch me.




“The Astronomer, 1668 “ first appeared in The Southeast Review, 23.1 (2004).