Late Astronomical Fall

Because I’m a Sagittarian,
I’ll never mistake a chimney poker
for an archer’s arrow.

Pinwheels don’t spin
counterclockwise in my head.
Kaleidoscopes do.

The shoe transforms
into a thick-soled boot.
I drink turmeric ginger tea

year-round regardless
of the season. I hear
Smokey Robinson singing

“The Tracks of My Tears”
whenever I open the torn
cardboard box filled with letters

written to me
during my college years.
So many different senders:

my mother, grand mother,
sisters, high school buddies,
ex- and never quite boyfriends.

All those ones from you, Dad.

You smiled when I asked you
to explain the atomic radius
of a chemical element

the way I cherished the times
you quoted the poets.
Wallace Stevens pondering:

“Perhaps / The truth depends
on a walk around the lake.”*

You shared your birthday with me
the night I arrived
for the rest of your life.

Nothing could crush that bond—
no sinister creature
hidden in the seaweed,

no extreme wave crashing
over the boardwalk. Because
you were one too.

* from Wallace Stevens’ poem “Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction”

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