Copernicus made some people understand
that the words sunrise & sunset
were only metaphors, & the idea of the sun
rising & setting an illusion. The holdouts
thought him mad, apostate, but he persisted.
Legend has it that on his deathbed, he awoke
from a coma, saw his just-published book,
& died in peace. But go back to the metaphors,
to the idea that the rising & setting of the sun
are only ways of seeing what’s not real
because the sun stays put & we never were
the center of the universe. I just heard
my mother, another illusion, since she’s dead,
saying, You’re not the center of the universe,
young lady. Countless mothers said this
to their daughters when I was young, thinking
to prepare us for the one we’d have to treat
as if he were the sun & center of our world.
How long it took to shun such teaching.
To look at the beloved & think not of the sun,
the moon, the stars, but the earth we shared,
fragile, vulnerable, the sun burning on regardless.
Lynne Knight has published six poetry collections and six chapbooks. Her awards include a Poetry Society of America award, a Rattle Poetry Prize, and an NEA grant. I Know (Je sais), her translation with Ito Naga of his Je sais, appeared in 2013. In March of 2018, she became a permanent resident of Canada.