I walked through the pine barrens,
the moon caught in a crib of oak branches.
Above me, the constellations ranged.
The night grew darker, more funeral
than the spaces between stars. I knew
someone long ago stood here, felt threads
of light tether him to a living God.
But I know those stars, purposeless in their
orbits, come and go as showers of event.
And in this dull, sublunary world, am only
aware of the unreliability of love. While above,
pass Arcturus, Orion, Cassiopeia, those
eternal fires to which I cannot pray.
By Robert Dorsett
Robert Dorsett is a physician who lives in Berkeley. He was a naval officer during the Viet Nam War and studied Chinese in the Yale-in-China program at the Chinese University in Hong Kong during the Mao years. His latest book of translations, Ai Qing Selected Poems, has been published by Penguin/Random House.