Cold stars pin down the night that breathes
below the frothy veil of the Milky Way.
My father’s gaze is fixed on deeper, darker fields,
far beyond the orbit of frozen planets.
He has abandoned all earthbound places
to search for the mundane logic that will unravel
the mystery and chaos of the universe.
He forgets how my bones ache in the chilly cage
of these convent walls, where nothing is more yielding
than the wooden pews and benches.
The Divine Office drops easily from my numbed
and clumsy hands, and my breath clouds
the bitter air like vapour from a guttering candle.
I have no telescope to unearth divine reason
among these freezing flagstones; or find meaning
in the minutiae of a life lived below a veil
where choirs of sisters are constellated in prayer,
filling the empty night air with psalms.
In this prison all hours are carefully plotted and pieced,
with sober, tolling bells to mark the hours in our chain of days.
My absentee father sails on lonely galleons of heresy,
through archipelagos of stars and nebulae,
remote from the frontier of a barefoot orphan’s dreams
that have lost their echo in broken promises.