First Light


      A term for when a telescope is first used



You peer at your brother from the wrong end,

a kind of consciousness that makes him appear

less of a sibling, the friend he wants to be.


Dark surrounds that light, a swallowing.

You have to look into that light, hardly worth

the effort, it fuzzies. You swing the telescope


and there he is again, crying for milk. Pick up,

pick up. He’s a room away, then the focus

is smeared, a tragedy-in-the-making, adult want


turned to scorn, something left off,

the repair’s ragged dark and not forgotten.

Here’s a cap for the instrument, here’s


the math that goes with the lens when it’s ground

to determines the size of that cap. Capsizing is rare

in the birth order of one to the other,


but the brain has its wonts. You are alone

in the universe, except for all those other stars.

Don’t be afraid–open your eyes—he’s where it hurts.

Terese Svoboda is the author of 17 books of poetry, fiction, biography, translation and memoir. Her poetry appeared recently in the New York Times, Plume, and Diagram. Professor Harriman's Steam Air-Ship (Eyewear) was published in 2016, Anything That Burns You: A Portrait of Lola Ridge, Radical Poet (Schaffner Press) was published in paper in 2018, The Maine in Spain (chapbook) will be published this year, and Great American Desert (stories) will appear next year.