In our language, there is only
a borrowed word for constellation.

Instead of the Bear or the Big
or Little Dipper, there are layers

of terraced clouds from which,
on clear nights, you might see

the great cloud rat leap
in his ascent up the limbs

of the sacred tree, winding from earth
to the gates of heaven. There is

no hunter with a sword and silver belt,
but there are warriors wrapped

in loincloth, their hand-tooled
blades ringing still with the audible

breath of their enemies. Don’t ask me
for the catalog of their other names:

when it rains blood, there is famine;
and when it rains clear and milky,

the merciful goddess has squeezed
drops from her breast to feed us.


In response to Via Negativa: Ursa Major.

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