"Rabbit on the Moon"

Fly to the moon as dusk comes on
and you'll see twelve celestial signs
light up before you like the secret life
of a mirror or the tapetum lucidum

of a stag crossing the lane at night,
looking at you in the beam of your headlight.
Whose light is whose? There they are, twin
shining eyes into which you fling your dreams

when this world seems too difficult.
New light. Pour everything you are in here
and start again, like the god
who hurled a rabbit

at the inner segment of the moon.
See yourself up there, only visible
when she is full. Pure, beautiful,
a door cut into time.

Or like that Spanish friar
shipped to the New World
who spent seventy years
on a twelve-volume chronicle

of Aztec grammar, Aztec lives,
myths, marriages and syntax,
set down in Náhuatl, dying language
of just one beloved tribe.

Ruth is a British poet and author with close connections to conservation, wildlife, Greece and music. She has published a novel, eight works of non-fiction and eight poetry collections, most recently The Mara Crossing, which mixes poems and prose to explore migration. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Council Member for the Zoological Society of London.  See her website for more.

This article first appeared in the 28 March 2011 issue of the New Statesman, Why Libya? Why now?