Poetry Appearing in Poetry In Motion® Amherst

The Grade School Angels

Raphael Alberti

None of us understood the dark secret of the blackboards
nor why the armillary sphere seemed so remote when we looked
     at it.
We knew only that a circumference does not have to round
and that an eclipse of the moon confuses the flowers
and speeds up the timing of birds.

None of us understood anything:
not even why our fingers were made of India ink
and the afternoon closed compasses only to have the dawn open
     books.
We knew only that a straight line, if it likes, can be curved or
     broken
and that the wandering stars are children who don't know
     arithmetic.


* * *

"The Grade School Angels" by Raphael Alberti, from The Owl's Insomnia, translated by Mark Strand. Reprinted by permission of Mark Strand.

 

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