I remember how my daughter learnt to sew; the way the seams
got twisted out of true or a bias-cut inset wouldn’t lie at ease;
how she’d bring home a goldfinch captured in a cage, keep it there
beating against its house arrest until I let it free.

Nature is all my work. When I found out the earth is made
to travel round the sun, I had to say it. That was my nature.
The truth I knew hung straight in my body as a plumb-line.
It did not compromise the God I know, who is never a liar.

Unlike me. They made me swear their truth, a sad affair
of fusty books and hand-me-down ideas, was what was true.
Their God, small enough to fit inside their lists of calumny,
knows only what they know. No-one is outside their power.

They let me have my work. Confined here I am no more unhappy
than my daughter in her convent. My clipped wings do not reach
even to the bars of my cage. Nature has not been forbidden me,
only the one truth I have sold to them in return for nothing.

One day it will not be hidden. Their God, no longer bent out of shape,
will let us reveal all that we dare to know. For now I do what I can,
an old man whose crooked back can never straighten again.
Silenced though I have been I still repeat: eppur si muove.

Elaine Taylor

If you have any comments on this poem, Elaine Taylor would be pleased to hear from you.