Volume 32, Number 3

From a Great Height

Let’s agree that God gave us too much sky.
Do we really need so much height?
We slump anyway. Teenagers, backs hunched
as if weary, but to be cool, to show defiance,
Looking at the wreckage under their feet.

Let’s say that large spaces are owned
by vast machines. We are their servants,
cautious as parasites in the sacred gut
of a church. When a plane roars overhead
its peremptory order to concede kingship,

how many in what complacent country ignore,
and in another place, how many flee?
Up yonder, memories of mortal stars,
the unheard murmur of the moon shaking
its shadows, the human illusion of wings.

—Mary Elizabeth Birnbaum