Dawn McGuire

True North

My son wants True North.
I show him the North
Star. See, I tell him,

right here, at the tip of the Earth’s
axis. It’s always in one place.
The whole sky turns around it.

He shakes his head. Polaris
is at least a thousand miles
from the Magnetic North

he says. North should be
all in one place.
Isn’t that what true means?

Under the night sky
I hear a creature’s teeth
debride my son’s ninth August.

The dogs pace protectively
around a boy who imagines he can be
All One Thing.

I sometimes tell him
things beyond his years, likeIf you protect the foolishness

of the ones you love,
you will never be
without a Friend.

But it will be awhile before I tell him
about magnetic storms,
the fragmenting dislocations

atmospheres force on light;
how everything bends to matter
then breaks; how this becomes

acceptable. We trace
the Big Dipper, my hand over his.
The handle glints, the great bowl’s

spangles fall towards our home.
Under our fingertips,

And this boy,
already too big to lift,
I lift.

A little of the light that left the double stars
before he was conceived
enters him.

When it is time
though it will tear the last gristle
of the cord from him to me,

cord of my last paradise,
I will face him East.
I will tell him all of this as well.