|Jul/Aug 2006 Poetry Special Feature|
The Hole in the Sky
Even the oldest gods thirst
for something new. The pole star
is what the Chukchee of northeast
Siberia called the hole in the sky.
When they looked up at the mosaic
of mingled flickers and velvet dark,
they saw the sloping walls of a tent,
the hole made by the star
the flue through which smoke
from a cooking fire could escape.
It was also through this hole
that the shaman's soul could travel,
and that the gods sometimes look down.
The center of the world is everywhere.
Even here, standing on the hallway's
creaking floorboards, the hidden
washer and dryer thumps and wheezes
like a mechanical heart,
and I am poised in the middle
of something larger than this warren
of rooms. If the gods are paying attention,
I hope that the stories we still
tell of them will hoax a courteous
interest, that they will peer down
the smoke hole into our tents,
listen and grow quiet.