celestial bodies

the next solar eclipse visible in London will be on 29th March 2025,
and in eight minutes my flatmate’s alarm will go off,
so that i may listen to him make eggs beneath a rusted fan.
in 1997, my mother bathes me in the amber bathroom,
soap bubbles mixing with blessings i only know by sound,
while across the centuries
my ancestors are wrapping themselves in yearning,
shepherds offering up their flocks to the horror.

i want you and i to build a cardboard temple
and face down that upended moment, an eternity:
history means nothing if we can find each other.

what i am trying to tell you is that in
attempting to learn the name for heaven in every language
i have found myself unmoored from now,
stepping across time, each galaxy a lilypad.

a russian rabbi in moldova tells my great-great-grandfather
that when you are in the womb, just thirty days from birth,
your soul is cut in two, and i nod from the ceiling
as he explains that our spirits bleed
until we find our half-self, our soulmate.
we are all ripped peaches, the stone
a concrete scar from our divide.

if i told you that i looked for you in every era,
would it make a difference?
i have dripped with primordial oil,
numbered each constellation,
helped geese assault the sky at dusk.

when the moon eats the sun in their marriage rite,
people tell me the world is doomed as the air turns bloody,
but all i see is the ragged portal,
another chance to find you
clothed in starlight.

i was a soothsayer once, though that is yet to start,
and between the clouds, a wet plum in the sink, half-eaten,
hangs moronic, and i feel another shift begin:
i guess we’ll wait for one more year.

do you know
why the planet spins on its axis?
though gravity rebukes me,
i am pushing the world to get to you.


Artist’s Statement
I wrote this piece just after I moved to Vancouver. I felt a little disoriented by being in a new place, by the time difference, by my faraway partner being asleep for much of my day. In those first days of solitude and wonderment, I kept thinking about where I had left, and where my ancestors left before that, and what they might think of my life now, watching from above, if they are. Writing a love poem which incorporated all of that wonderment and confusion felt like a vast task, but it came together beautifully after some discussion with my MFA classmates and with my professor Sheryda Warrener. I am grateful to have been listened to, and to be read now. I will keep writing about the stars.

Toby Sharpe is a queer writer and editor from London, UK. He is an MFA student at the University of British Columbia, and the co-founder of Project Myopia. His work has been published in the Glasgow Review of Books, One Sentence Poems, and Adjacent Pineapple. His instagram handle is @tesharpe.