Note for a Missing Friend

1991, 28 pages

"Dina Ben-Lev has a fine ear for lyric phrasing, a virtue all the more singular for the way her poems bear down on difficult subjects." óBrooks Haxton

The Planetarium

There's nothing to hate on Mars.
No canals filled with old Chevys.
No children pushed in closets
by parents too angry to listen.
Our necks hurt from looking up,
but this universe is easy:
velvet ceiling where planets take turns,
Venus, shy behind a veil of clouds,
Pluto, the bruised baseball we could
never find; and the Milky Way,
chalky with hot meteor.

Stars live for millions of years
before losing heat. Saturn is
surrounded with enough ice bullets
to break all the windows in America.
A boy next to me wants to ride a comet tail.
His mother shushes him with: Later.

What if the arrows drifted off the ceiling,
pointing to the pretzel man who came in
to escape the heat, the girl
first row who dreams of a dead lover,
the party of old women: each remembering
a moon wholly hers.

When the lights come on,
we can barely see.



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