Astronomical Phenomena

Field Guide: identification of poems in their natural habitat –

floating all around my rooms: poem shards
on scraps of paper, bits of doom
– Notebook #4 (1994-95)

Vernal Equinox – one of the coolest things about living in the Mojave Desert (with 225 flight days per year) is that most days you can look up and, barring the habitual afternoon wind, you can actually see the sky. It was a half-dozen years ago, at this time of year (right around the Vernal Equinox) that I first noticed an intriguing spectral phenomenon on my westward drive to work each morning around 6:30 A.M. – heading into the moon-set, in my rear-view and side mirrors, I could see the Eastern sky filled with the just-rising sun. However, it was the apparition of the moon growing dimmer, and simultaneously larger as it approached the horizon, that captured my poetic imagination. So, I tucked a mental “snapshot” away in my notebook for further exploration.

Observatory – I didn’t get around to looking at that image again for several years. When I “re-discovered” it in my notebook (or language journal) I started imagining the Moon as a feminine presence, like Mozart’s “Queen of the Night,” a personification of royal personage. I wondered why “she” got bigger as she approached the horizon. In researching the physical science, I discovered that it was all an illusion, a visual trick our eyes and brain collude to perpetrate on us — astral bodies only appear to get larger as they near the horizon. I began to imagine (because I could not actually observe) the moon’s pathway from apogee to perigee as “she” circumnavigated the globe. I wondered who eclipsed whom as she queued up between Earth and Sun, about to “take center stage” again on the Eastern horizon. None of this, however, explained why her light failed and she became a ghostly effigy as she sank behind the hills that landscape my vantage point.

Powers of the Super Moon – and so, like all poets, storytellers, myth-makers, and magicians, I felt compelled to supply an explanation of my own. She seemed to me rather like an ingénue, slinking off, shoes-in-hand after Prom Night, into the waiting antemeridian sky:

Astronomical Phenomena 6:39 Antemeridian

"Astronomical Phenomena - 6:39 Antemeridian" 2008. Anne Yale. Brushed air.

Moonflower –and then, I remembered that all natural  “phenomena” are in fact, located in the observer, rather than in the observation, so I felt compelled to have the poem’s speaker (aka “I” presence) intrude on the scene, like the voice-over narration in a motion picture, but on a static, two-dimensional image re-created in words on the page. And it was then that it occurred to me that while Moon does not emit or manufacture her own light, she performs a service nonetheless: as an astronomical “mirror” she reflects astral light back to its source; however, only as much light as the observer is willing to admit being witness to.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Pam on March 20, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    Beautiful, Anne! Thank you.


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