Backbone of the Night
‘The backbone of the night’ is the term the people of the Kalahari Desert use to describe what is
also known as the Milky Way.
I will grow thin in the dark matter
that torques the arms of the galaxy
and spews forth particles of light
like foam on the crest of an ocean wave
I grow thin in Vancouver
surrounded by abundance
and on the streets of Bangkok
clogged with water and traffic.
I grow thin in Durban
with dust dogging my heels –
the crunch of my steps on gravel
like the sound of static coming from
the interstices of stars.
I will grow thin in San Francisco
and New York from exchanges of blood
and secret yearnings.
I grow thin
in the jails of New Orleans
and Angola prison
from my own ignorance
and from others’.
I will grow thin
until the day comes
to lie on the ground
look up at the backbone of the night
and ask the earth to accept my geometry.
- Adrienne Drobnies