(after Stephen Burt)

Relatively simple, the poem makes
intricate use of imagined space
and time, moves from one room
across town into another then into
the open, from astrological
comet to eschatological prophet
to hour-by-hour child’s day, with early
bedtime and a way to sneak out.

White-on-black chalkboard prefigures
the starry sky; the questionable
tomorrow points to the future, where
the boy writes the poem. Innocent
apocalypse reverses life and death,
floor and ceiling, up and down: gravel
bed, construction site, top of building
absent or buried down from above.

Neither teacher nor student understands
comets go only where gravity and inertia
take them. Everyone should know the boy
lives as children assume, seeks such unusual
certainty that the poem breaks even
the little children, shouts at them but
pointedly does not blame this world,
having lived to write this poem.