N
behold the Lord a neutron star had been “missing” for 32 years

visible light faded
gradually over 500 days, then

astrophysicists announced they had seen a hot, bright

blob in the core

of Supernova 1987A

wouldn’t it feel pleasant to be more and more together like a neutron star

clearly a brotherhood since we’re all exploding anyway? Might as well hedge

that spinning rank it was an “agent of change” I stood there squinting

into the heavens thinking if ‘star’ can also be ‘dust cloud’ or ‘nebula’

or ‘black hole’ then surely gender is far stranger than we’ve imagined

and much more beautiful, unfurling over decades, a phenomenon.

Exploded from a corn field— that’s me. Will you join this velvet burst?

Even the lord wants it. His will was written down for everyone

to read and he left something for everyone. The intention of the cedar

wood and hyssop branch and scarlet yarn is to let it be known

that it feels good to dwell in unity and pleasure. If I’m someday judged

on group projects alone, pray for me, nay, pray for you! But I wonder

will wealth be measured by what I gave away? I am interested in the gods,

their names, sacrifices, and what they gave up for their powers. Holy

lightning bolts will not come from my hand, but I too am unfolding, changing.

An old Amana book I read, that one with the cloth orange cover, says

before there was anything else, the communal kitchens along the river valley,

the calico, the salsify, before any barn or house was built, before the mill fire,

before everything that had to do with industry, there was the Community

of True Inspiration— the church, the faith, the religion— most of all.

The year I was born, a supernova exploded in “our” skies. I was 32 when

dust settled to finally reveal its thick, luminescent core. I didn’t even know.

I should keep the faith. So I’m here. Be a cloud with me remember

the believers by how they plant their dead in the ground absolute

order of expiry identical stone monuments bearing names and years

measuring lifespan

by number of orbits taken

around an already dying

star!

I’m coming back to me now, yet I remain in common.

Come get your eggs: laid from the elements of dead stars!

 


Note: The italicized portions of this poem together comprise a passage from the book Amana That Was and Amana That Is, by Bertha Shambaugh (published in 1932 by The State Historical Society of Iowa).