The Opéra in Lyon has eight muses in a row
on its front. They are wise and tall and fair
and from the tour bus I stare up and wonder
when I can ever be like that. The guide says
Urania is missing, the muse of astronomy.
I hadn’t noticed. I am in a mind-whirl these
days and the morning is grey and overcast,
which never helps. Here on this open top
deck we are so, so cold. The guide tells us
maybe there used to be another statue of
her nearby and so they left her off the roof.
I can only see her up there, bridging earth
and night. A second theory is that she was
not seen as a muse of the arts, unlike the
others with their epic poems and tragedy
and hymns. Am I okay? You tug my arm.
Astronomy is my thing, after all. I’m fine,
I say, while silently begging, let’s get off
this goddamned bus and stop shivering as
we stand in front of the Opéra and watch
stars shine from holes in my palms, white
and pure at first, then lilac and green and
gold. You can be Euterpe, sing your song
about unicorns, bubbles fluttering from
your lips, or Terpsichore, dancing in the
wind blowing from the rivers. You can be
anything. I am the stargazy one, the late
night one, ponderer of comets and dust.
I try to find meaning. I don’t do it well
enough, considering you are my source.
Copyright © Elizabeth Gibson 2018
Elizabeth Gibson was announced as a New North Poet at the 2017 Northern Writers’ Awards. She edits Foxglove Journal and the Word Life section of Now Then Manchester. She tweets at @Grizonne and blogs at http://elizabethgibsonwriter.blogspot.co.uk.