Is There Gold in the Stars?

My friends do not believe in gnomes.
I have learned not to discuss the subject;
    they long ago gave up listening.
But when the times and seasons are right
I go to a cave beneath the hill
and squirm through a gnome-sized tunnel
to a great gnome-sized hall
    where I can almost stand.

They throw a great party, the gnomes,
with their cups of crystal and plates of well-worked gold.
And they love guests
    as they get so few of them.
But take nothing with you when you leave.
For they love their treasure even more than their guests,
and they will part with none of it.

The gnomes do not believe in stars.
I have tried to convince them.
“Come with me,” I urge, “up to the surface.
“Look up at the open Heavens and see.”
But they will not.
They know that there are no Heavens
and have no wish to share my delusion.
“And,” they ask, “even if there were stars,
what would it profit us to see them?”
“Is there gold in the stars?
“Can we mine the stars for rubies
    and decorate our halls?”
When I have no answer, they harumph
and wander off triumphant.

When the party is over, I leave the gnome-sized hall
and squirm through the gnome-sized tunnel
to the cave beneath the hill.
Atop the hill I sit beneath the stars
    for hours, and wonder about myself.
For I have seen the gnomes and I have seen the stars,
and I got no gold from either.
Perhaps I am, indeed, misguided.

Doug Muder, December 1998