By Lynne Knight
Copernicus made some people understand
that the words sunrise & sunset
were only metaphors, & the idea of the sun
rising & setting an illusion. The hold-outs
thought him mad, apostate, but he persisted.
Legend has it that on his deathbed, he awoke
from a coma, saw his just-published book,
& died in peace. But go back to the metaphors,
to the idea that the rising & setting of the sun
are only ways of seeing what’s not real
because the sun stays put & we never were
the center of the universe. I just heard
my mother, another illusion, since she’s dead,
saying, You’re not the center of the universe,
young lady. Countless mothers said this
to their daughters when I was young, thinking
to prepare us for the one we’d have to treat
as if he were the sun & center of our world.
How long it took to shun such teaching.
To look at the beloved & think not of the sun,
the moon, the stars, but the earth we shared,
fragile, vulnerable, the sun burning on regardless.
Lynne Knight is the author of six full-length poetry collections and of six chapbooks. Her work has appeared many journals, including Kenyon Review, Poetry and Southern Review. Her awards and honors include publication in Best American Poetry, a Prix de l’Alliance Française, a PSA Lucille Medwick Memorial Award, a RATTLE Poetry Prize, and an NEA grant. I Know (Je sais), her translation with the author Ito Naga of his Je sais, appeared in 2013. She lives on Vancouver Island.