Submitted Date 05/10/2019

Seeing Stars
Age 7-14, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, 1951-1958
& Age 20, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, 1964

-- This is one poem, in an autobiographical series of poems, I posted here at WriteSpike. Go to my stories section for others. They are in chronological order. --

ABOUT THE PICTURE FOR THIS POEM: This drawing of the Pleiades on the left is by Galileo Galilei from his 1610 publication The Starry Messenger. This short pamphlet was the first scientific publication about astronomy through a telescope. It was based on what Galileo discovered with his new telescope that he built. The painting on the right is van Gogh's Starry Night.

The underlying sense of form in my work has been the system of the Universe, or part thereof.
~ Alexander Calder (inventor of mobile sculpture) ~

As a child
when I lay in bed
I looked up and saw stars

my small room had once been a closet,
but was the right size for a seven-year-old;
my father had covered the angled walls
with paper that looked like the night sky -
white constellations against dark blue
that ran up and across the ceiling

it was like being outside while being inside
like the planetarium in New York
or like camping or walking on a beach at midnight
like standing in new snow in a deserted field
with no moon

* * * * *
when I was twenty I went back
to my Dad's empty house
for the winter
and stayed there by myself -
it was a test

if I had the time
could I devote myself to making art?

at the end of three months
I had written five short stories
and a novella I did not like
but the point was, I had worked

and, to my surprise,
I had also experimented and constructed
about ten mobiles
of white tissue paper
stretched across
angular balsa wood frames
some always turning
no matter how faint the air

just before I was to leave
I hung them in my childhood room -
some with candles
some with bright metal strips that caught the light
plus a few late ones made with
red Madras tissue

together they turned
under the star wallpaper

when I had carefully placed each piece
I moved a chair to the middle
and sat surrounded
by what I had made

and then I knew
I could spend a lifetime

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  • Tomas Chough 4 months, 1 week ago

    and then I knew I could spend a lifetime creating
    Great ending. Those "aha!" moments are the best!

    • Rick Doble 4 months ago

      Yes, Tomas, it was a powerful AHA moment -- that I did not realize would happen when I made my little 'exhibit' in that room. It was more a sense of completion, but then came the AHA as you have said so well.

  • Ceara 4 months, 1 week ago

    I love this! Such a wonderful memory and that must have been such a meaningful moment. I can visualize the mobiles so well. Thanks for sharing!

    • Rick Doble 4 months ago

      It became pivotal to my work later on. Because the nature of my work kept changing, but the work always continued. As you will see in future poems, I began to work visually and then later with computers -- but always the work kept on going.

  • Nina Appasamy 4 months, 1 week ago

    Your poem is so powerful. I like that it is melodic and so well-written, while also being direct. I write a lot of abstract poems where the meanings often get swallowed by overly-ornate words. Your poem here has a lot of depth, is direct about that, and is really well-crafted. I hope to read more of your writing in the future!

    • Rick Doble 4 months ago

      Thanks, Nina, These are part of an autobiography in poetry -- which I think is the only full autobiography ever written in English poetry. So read on as I keep posting these every week. My goal has always been to be direct but with a feeling for the sound of the words. I have posted about 20 of these so far here at WriteSpike -- starting at age 4.

  • Kiersten Felch 4 months ago

    Beautiful as always. I love the scene it sets and can picture myself in it.

    • Rick Doble 4 months ago

      I consider that a highest compliment -- that you can see it in pictures via my words. Thanks.

  • Miranda Fotia 4 months ago

    Great poem! The mobiles you created sound beautiful.

    • Rick Doble 3 months, 4 weeks ago

      The mobiles were a complete surprise to me. I was just playing with strips of balsa and tissue paper I stretched over the balsa, based on some models I had made when I was a child. And they turned into these wonderful large constructions.