Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts

A Difficult Winter

by Howie Faerstein


(Tycho Brahe–circa 1591)

I planted a garden
a refuge in murderous Europe
but now swamps return
and my forest hangs with death.

If anyone doubts it
and if they dare
have them poke their heads
inside the peasants’ huts.
No cleaner than their pigs.
Huddled in dung heaps
awaiting their end.
The stench of it.
Fools born dying.

Amid the fragrance I sat
and watched the sky.
Only then was I humbled.
Not when I rode
in Emperor Rudolph’s procession.
Not when I swore fealty
to the boy king
who condemns me
for sleeping with a commoner.
My wife!

Only before the mystery
and majesty of heaven,
my stars.