Did you know that the earth, not like a top on its point,
Spins on an axis that sways, up and down, from its middle?
Well, I didn’t know, but do now, and often at night,
After maybe three highballs, I lie in my bed,
In the dark and try to feel the off-center sensation,
And sometimes if
(In the Northern Hemisphere, this) my head points north,
I do. Or maybe I do. It is like
So many things they say are true, but you
Can’t always before you feel them,
Even in the dark, in bed, head north.
I have, in the shameless dark, sometimes
I couldn’t be sure something precious was true,
Like they say. Examples could be multiplied. But
Once, in a Pullman berth (upper) I desperately prayed
To God to exist so that I
Might have the exalted horror of denying
Him. But nothing
Came of that project. Nothing. Oh, nothing.
But so young was I then! And maybe the axis of earth
Does not really sway from its center, even if
Ancient Egyptian and modern astronomers say so,
And what good would it do me to have first-hand evidence,
When there’s so much that I, lying in darkness, don’t know?
February 23, 1978