Sunday Poetry: astronomy

Sunday poetry is a new series beginning this Spring! Each week, I’ll post a poem that I’ve been thinking about, whether mine or someone else’s. Tune in for an exploration of how poetry can interrupt and enrich our lives when we least expect it to. 

March 31: astronomy

One of my dearest students has a small obsession with astrology and horoscopes, and she helped me look at my natal chart. I’m an aquarius, but with rising scorpio / saggitarius signs. And apparently my moon is in Virgo? (this seemed like such a chump sign to me– didn’t agree with me at all). And then there’s a lot of dominant Mars rumblings going on. I’m not sure how they’re all connected or what they all mean, but I’m a little fascinated by the idea of seeking signs to tell us who we are. How often do we look outside ourselves for the answers of who we should be? Do we have a way to compare this outside signifying with the urges and signs of our internal selves?

Right in the wake of editing a poem of my own that’s now called “Astronomy,” I ran into this gem in American Poetry Review (Nov/Dec ’18). I’m really intrigued first by the suggestion of two moons and two loves, and then by the lingering temptation that the speaker feels to take tenderness or buy it or take advantage of it. She reminds herself that “tenderness is not for sale,” yet it calls to her. Tenderness and love has called to me so many times. I feel that.


My own poem starts, “something is violet / in the way you look at me” which at first seemed to be a happy desire. Violet is beautiful and soft, and the speaker can see that in the gaze of her lover. But then, that violet distance becomes astronomical distance, as the speaker looks at the sky above an ocean and wishes that the stars and her lover could come close to her.

How often do you look up at the stars and moon? What do you feel or think when you do?

Another snippet from one of my poems:

I wonder if he knows I started
writing moon poetry because of him,
and that I’ve outgrown that weak light;
I am a sun and sky creature now.

Dear reader, what’s your sign? What kind of creature are you?


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