Catherine Phil MacCarthy goes stargazing – and philosophising  –  in this poem from her new collection, The Invisible Threshold, published by Dedalus Press. Limerick-born, she studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and the Central School of Speech and Drama, London. As well as this fourth collection of poems, she has produced a novel and edited Poetry Ireland Review.  


Paint at night those

stars in a frosty sky,

one brighter than another.


Sirius, Orion, Great Bear.

accustom eyes to deepest pitch

that delivers the Milky Way.


The more it’s scanned,

this sprawl grows fathomless.

Too late to catch low in the south –


as if the sound made

walking the lane just now

frightened it away –


a star falling and seconds later

another, lit trajectory

scorching headlong


over the western rim.

Yet, up above the heavens are

crammed with constellations like


so many freckles jostling for place.

Could it be some night

we are not there,


gone without trace,

planet earth, an empty house

as the face of night prevails,


unforeseen and certain

from the beginning

as only death is?