What do I know?


What I know of the age of the stars,

the quality of empty space,

the depth of oceans

and the dark, blind things that live there,

I could write on the back of a postage stamp.


What I know of the times before,

the decomposition of bone,

the dragging of stone blocks to the pinnacle

of a pyramid, a diet of chestnut meal,

is less than nothing, a wisp of supposition.


What was in the heart of the Conquistadores

or Genghis Khan and his hordes,

the householders who sent children

into the lightless hell of their chimneys,

is beyond imagining.



Where the wind blows,

the ebbing tide ends or the swift rests,

and what I will be when I am not,

are mysteries in the lap of the nature

that shapes us all.


I know only

that I am,

you are,

and when I take your hands,

we are too.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

6 thoughts on “What do I know?”

  1. This is such a beautiful romantic poem. I initially thought it was a metaphysical one talking about how we’re nothing but specks of dust, but then I read the last stanza and that made me completely concur with memadtwo’s comment.

    1. Thank you, Peter. We persist in wanting to have certitudes where the only thing that’s certain is that we don’t know. The simple, blindingly obvious, important things are the ones we don’t value enough.

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