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Eleanor Lerman


Mystery of Meteors


I am out before dawn, marching a small dog through a meager park

Boulevards angle away, newspapers fly around like blind white birds

Two days in a row I have not see the meteors

though the radio news says they are overhead

Leonid’s brimstones are barred by clouds; I cannot read

the signs in heaven, I cannot see night rendered into fire


And yet I do believe a net of glitter is above me

You would not think I still knew these things;

I get on the train, I buy the food, I sweep, discuss,

consider gloves or boots, and in the summer,

open windows, find beads to string with pearls

You would not think that I had survived

anything but the life you see me living now


In the darkness, the dog stops and sniffs the air

She has been alone she has known danger,

and so now she watched for it always

and I agree, with the conviction of my mistakes.

But in the second part of my life, slowly, slowly,

I begin to council bravery.  Slowly, slowly,

I begin to feel the planets turning, and I am turning

toward the crackling shower of their sparks


These are the mysteries I could not approach when I was younger:

the Boulevards, the meteors, the deep desires that split the sky

Walking down the paths of the cold park

I remember myself, the one who can wait out anything

So I caution the dog to go silently, to bear with me

the burden of knowing what spins on and on above our heads


For this is our reward: Come Armageddon, come fire or flood,

come love, not love, millennia of portents—

there is a future in which the dog and I are laughing

Born into it, the mystery, I know we will be saved


xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx-from The Mystery of Meteors


The Magellanic Clouds


In the age of discovery, the Large Magellanic Cloud was already

            to the naked eye.

It presided over tragic ocean voyages and massacres, the

   destruction of

libraries and temples, ritual burials and the uneven exchange of


Looking through his spyglass, Magellan himself thought it had a

            heart-breaking quality

though his was just a feeling.  Later, scientists were able to tell us

that the problem with the Large Magellanic Cloud is the Tarantula


Measurements indicate that this nebula is actually the core of the

Large Magellanic Cloud even though it appears to be off-center

from the rest of the galaxy.  Ah.  Always off-kilter, pursuing

            its own heart,

the Large Magellanic Cloud hugs the horizon but lurks around all


Sometimes the Large Magellanic Cloud experiences light and


            but more often that not

it knows nothing but trouble.  It is pierced by comets.  It is

in a transition state and grows bigger and more unwieldy every day.

But there is hope!  The Large Magellanic Cloud has a companion,

            a little twin called the Small Magellanic Cloud.

On photographic plates, it sometimes appears blurry but believe me,

            it is there.

It may be hard to see, but it has a kind and spiritual nature.

The Russians have been studying it since the Revolution.

Nixon thought about it a lot, so do people who believe that

           their airplane is about to crash.

Who else thinks about the Small Magellanic Cloud?

People who have problems in their love life and their work

(I, for instance, have had it in my mind for years).

The Small Magellanic Cloud knows about our disappointments

           and it sympathizes.

It worries for us sometimes, so we can sleep.  But the

Small Magellanic Cloud, whose inner heart is perfectly centered,

           always perseveres.

It follows after the Large Magellanic Cloud and picks up the pieces.

Loving us, loving us, loving us, the Small Magellanic Cloud.

Puzzles the astronomers because it seems to have no purpose.

But we know better.  We whisper its name to our children so they

           may be comforted.

We tell them that every day, stars are born in the Small

           Magellanic Cloud

and then spin of into the universe, remembering us, wishing us well.


xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx-from Our Post Soviet History Unfolds