by Ricky Ray
At night, when Addie sniffs the snow for deer
and I sniff the smoke from the neighbor’s
chimney for understanding,
I think the stars
out there are in here, under my ribs,
which are no longer mine but the body
of some great heaving that holds us
the one we were before the big
bang, and still are, radiating the universe
in the aftermath of birth,
the slow effervescence
of heat leaking toward a winter
in which all hearts and stars go dark.
Dark: where the light begins.
When it began,
the sun was a mote
in its beam, and us a blip in its mote,
and yet here we are,
a beautiful planet,
looking for reasons
to acknowledge our destruction
and the inevitability
of our undoing,
and still somehow concluding
that the correct response is love.
Which may include deciding
not to have children—the thing
I wanted most in this world.
Ricky Ray is a disabled poet, critic, essayist and the founding editor of Rascal: A Journal of Ecology, Literature and Art. He is the author of Fealty (Diode Editions, 2019), Quiet, Grit, Glory (Broken Sleep Books, 2020), and The Sound of the Earth Singing to Herself (Fly on the Wall Press, 2020). His awards include the Cormac McCarthy Prize, the Ron McFarland Poetry Prize, a Liam Rector fellowship and a Zoeglossia fellowship. His work appears widely in periodicals and anthologies, including The American Scholar, Verse Daily, Diode Poetry Journal and The Moth. He was educated at Columbia University and the Bennington Writing Seminars, and lives in the old green hills with his old brown dog, Addie.