My boy is painting outer space,
and steadies his brush-tip to trace
the comets, planets, moon and sun
and all the circuitry they run
in one great heavenly design.
But when he tries to close the line
he draws around his upturned cup,
his hand shakes, and he screws it up.
The shake’s as old as he is, all
(thank god) his body can recall
of that hour when, one inch from home,
we couldn’t get the air to him;
and though today he’s all the earth
and sky for breathing-space and breath
the whole troposphere can’t cure
the flutter in his signature.
But Jamie, nothing’s what we meant.
The dream is taxed. We all resent
the quarter bled off by the dark
between the bowstring and the mark
and trust to Krishna or to fate
to keep our arrows halfway straight.
But the target also draws our aim –
our will and nature’s are the same;
we are its living word, and not
a book it wrote and then forgot,
its fourteen-billion-year-old song
inscribed in both our right and wrong –
so even when you rage and moan
and bring your fist down like a stone
on your spoiled work and useless kit,
you just can’t help but broadcast it:
look at the little avatar
of your muddy water-jar
filling with the perfect ring
singing under everything.