Night was a secret
we kept from the children.

They had never seen it except
in picture books: the sky
ombre, blue at the roofs

gone indigo gone plum
gone black at the margins.

Stars impossibly star-shaped.
The moon flat and round.

When after dark they pressed
their palms to our windows,
the children saw only themselves.

If they thought of their hands
as five-pointed, they never let on.

How many dimensions
did we owe them? One more
than we gave. The only depth

they knew was depth of color.
The only moon they knew,
a white hole in the wallpaper.

The only stars, sharp-fingered
and near enough to pick at it.

The children weren’t prepared
for the night they’d find, finally
stepping outside—the sky

wholly black, black root
to tip, the stars like freckles,
they marveled, no shape at all.

And the moon? The moon
was so new, it was missing.

Maggie Smith