Stars Under Glass

After “After Callimachus”1

Library of Alexandria entry, Nuremberg Chronicle

Oh great Alexandria. Oh great library.
What was once is now a wink—in time
a tiny grain of sand
on Earth’s eternal land.

Under constellations,
named and unnamed.
Fixtures fixed in slow turn
under the slow burn
of a blameless sun.

I too led up front with a lie;
a heart-on-my-sleeve one might believe
until I wound it round and round
into an artifact.

I dreamcatcher.
I soothsayer.
I lioness.
I dragon slayer.

Fear not, your wink’s preserved.
I press my face against your glass
and peer in with hope it might
ignite my own flame. Fire enough
to earn its own name.

Oh great library of stars.
Collected and uncollected.
Fear not.
Eternal is just a human word. ∎

  1. “After Callimachus” is a poem by Stephanie Burt, Paris Review Issue no. 230 (Fall 2019)