Oct/Nov 2001 Poetry Special Feature

What the Stars Know

by Jennifer Finstrom

Art by Bob Dornborg


What the Stars Know

It is midnight, and I am
fifteen years old. This is my parent's
house above me, each lambent window
the eye of a god. I am on my back
on the lawn. Grass breathes
like a hundred animals beneath my head,
and the earth pulses all the way back
to the beginning of time.
I am on the verge of knowing everything,
and the universe hums, a giant searchlight
waiting to signal me home.

Another night and the ground is hard.
Dry branches twist my hair
like the hands of a witch.
I am nineteen, maybe twenty,
and if anyone sees me here I will die.
We aren't in his bed because
he isn't supposed to be with me.
I understand nothing, but know
that it isn't him blotting me out
but my desire. I want to open my chest
and splatter the stars with what's left in my heart.

It is midnight, and the windows blink
off one by one. My limbs tremble
as I contemplate the sky and my life
is so close I can almost grip it,
enter it like a ship sailing for heaven.
Soon I will stand and pluck the star
from my hazel eye. It is a gift, a sacrifice.
Payment for the voyage I will one day make.


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