Not what you think, a list of stars and weights,
but his finger in a glass egg at the Museum
of Science and Industry in Padua, that city
which Shakespeare singled out like a nun.
The index raised as it might have been in life
when Galileo explained how silly Aristotle was
before anyone thought of dropping a one-pound
and a ten-pound weight from the Tower
of Pisa to see if heavier fell faster, the tower too
an experiment in physics, leaning
as it has been for so many years. He had
one brilliant daughter, the Milky Way, and she
in a convent, another coming together. A monk
is a man who wants what—a life of beads and porridge?
I want a cloistered garden, a place
to read and think—but why? The five-letter
obscenity my mother refused to say led preachers
and papists to point their fingers. Even my father called
the Catholic Church the whore of Babylon.
Men and women, crowding fast in the street,
if they are not flashes and specks, what are they?
asks the great gray poet who loves us all
in his book of grass, book of wheat.
Nothing against the church, said Galileo, pointing his finger,
if the earth takes a spin around the sun.