I heard of Tracy K. Smith some years ago when she won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her book, Life on Mars. (Per her Poetry Foundation bio and poets.org bio, she was born in Massachusetts in 1972 and got her BA from Harvard University and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University.)
An excerpt from one of her poems as today's poem.
My God, It's Full of Stars
by Tracy K. Smith
We like to think of it as parallel to what we know,
Only bigger. One man against the authorities.
Or one man against a city of zombies. One man
Who is not, in fact, a man, sent to understand
The caravan of men now chasing him like red ants
Let loose down the pants of America. Man on the run.
Man with a ship to catch, a payload to drop,
This message going out to all of space. . . . Though
Maybe it’s more like life below the sea: silent,
Buoyant, bizarrely benign. Relics
Of an outmoded design. Some like to imagine
A cosmic mother watching through a spray of stars,
Mouthing yes, yes as we toddle toward the light,
Biting her lip if we teeter at some ledge. Longing
To sweep us to her breast, she hopes for the best
While the father storms through adjacent rooms
Ranting with the force of Kingdom Come,
Not caring anymore what might snap us in its jaw.
Sometimes, what I see is a library in a rural community.
All the tall shelves in the big open room. And the pencils
In a cup at Circulation, gnawed on by the entire population.
The books have lived here all along, belonging
For weeks at a time to one or another in the brief sequence
Of family names, speaking (at night mostly) to a face,
A pair of eyes. The most remarkable lies.
The full poem can be read here.
P.S. Coincidentally, just found that she is in the New York Times today in one of their cooking related features - Close at Hand, which "celebrates the objects, practical or precious, that cooks find indispensable."