I breathe into memory.
Not last week's snow
succumbing to rain.
Not the radiance
of the world I was born into.
Not the crows, indifferent as ever.
I breathe into the small boy
on the splintered dock
above a star-swept autumn lake.
Astronomer who almost was,
rapt in bright ideal.
How could such a sky
be anything but the precincts of life?
What his mind could not allow:
scale — the way light can overwhelm.
Which brought him for the first time 
to grief, pinned beneath
glory he could not refuse.
His father, who finally looked over,
outraged by his tears. 
What's wrong with you?
Perfect night. Brand new telescope.
What more could anybody want?

Broken, violent Jew whose postwar
wealth would never make him 
safe enough to truly see. 
And the son who learned only
that gateways sing, 
and miracle shatters.