Sic Itur Ad Astra

by Sarah Mackean, Parkes, NSW, for The Skywriters Project. Pre-print version.

If I ignore the trampled grass
The ugly grooves and cutting hooves of snorting cows
Stamping through soft nomad paths
In the brave new world of New South Wales

If I ignore the shiny coils of dung on altar floors
The iridescent feasting flies that spot these sacred groves
The emptied temples, limbless trees

If I ignore the glint and glitter of metal stars
Bounded wires that scratch and dispossess
The crisp and disappearing wilderness
And the lives and the meaning before us

If I put down my map, my compass, my level and my rule
My measuring of the miles
If I pretend I am not with these noisy breathing sweating men
I am not shifting in the oozing heat on a canvas sheet
Swatting at gnats at the end of a day
Surveying the brave new world of New South Wales

If I look away from the ruined mosaic
All the broken lines, all the drifting songs
And look up I see
Black swatches of velvet smeared with cream
The smudge of a billion stars
And the brilliance of a sparkling ribbon
Forever dancing through an infinite night

I catch in a blink the arching flash
Of a star flung off and burning to its end
I think as all we shadows think
Beneath the ever pointing stars how small we are and fast forgotten
Sic itur ad astra

A shiny scrap of hubris, a poet’s polish in a vanishing tongue
Gilded with the flourish of Apollo
The god’s yellow gleam has no meaning in this burning world
Under heavens never seen from Olympus
I am flattened by a strange milky sky curdled with stars
Sic itur ad astra

The way of the gods, the priests and the heroes,
The hopers, the hunters, the chasers of stars
Our little ships braving uncharted seas
So many golden dreams and destinies
So much hot desire
To conquer the spinning world
The storms of our stories and the silences too
The marching future scuffed from the dust
Fresh footsteps in the ash of distant lands

Little, lonely, lost in time
They are none of them even the tiniest stepping stone
To the twinkling river of stars

And yet unconquered
The glittering pinpricks beckon
And one fine night above this fallen garden
A little ship will surely brave the dark and
We questing specks will sail the southern skies


© Sarah MacKean 2017


Page created 27 September 2017.