The unknown is known
and then becomes forgotten.
I’ve seen only so many rainbows,
only so many rainbows
have ever been,
and this one fading now
will soon also be forgotten.
I will forget my mother’s face one day.
I could take a picture—
I took a few of her in our time—
forget that I took it but maybe find it later,
part of the electro-digit, silicon
world in my pocket,
or never see its pixelated trace again.
Nothing was ordained or any more solid than itself
about this rainbow moments or lifetimes ago,
about me being here to see it as it blooms and fades,
about me being here at all.
All rainbows seen and unseen
are certain, in a certain way, for having been,
though gone, forgotten or unknown.
Rainbows yet to be are premonitions,
their phantom flash in future time and space
no more certain than the sun and the rain.
So town-cry the rainbow alert!
Let none in the geography of its light miss out:
this brilliant ghost of colors dispersed,
collisions of stuff and star in motion,
essence of the sun
stretched and separated from itself by the earth,
absorbed and changed, reemitted
by droplets of coherent O and H
blasted like pollen from some long-dead star,
now held by and effusing static charge,
merest parts of this squall that mounts the hills,
themselves the pot of gold.
So ring the rainbow bell!
Awake the sleeping masses!
It’s happening again today!
Here and now as elsewhere then and everywhere in time,
but we are here and this is now and we could miss it.
This particular array of wavelengths
could fall on the eyes of other animals
who will not stand in awe at its passing
who will not think of moments past and smile
who do not know of miracles or aesthetics
who do not have a vision of some eternal
power of creation within which to enshrine
this common chance formation of sunlight.
Oh that there could be arrows
of lightning and horns of thunder
around and through this rainbow as it shines
to match the bolts of joy within my mind
and elevate this time above the rest
ensuring it will always be remembered.
But then, where was it
first I saw my mother,
heard her singing voice,
felt her touch,
was nourished by her body,
first knew her to be who she was to me?
Even things we know to be
are at the last uncertain
as the most solid things are made
of space we ever on contrive to fill.