The quieter you become the more you can hear. — Baba Ram Dass
Orion lies over the wharf staring at the moon, dangling like an unyielding eye, barring sleep while below the waves wash onto the shore, licking the pilings and tasting the sand, a calming roar broken only by the barking of the harbor seals. It is not a night for hunting the bear has fled over the horizon preparing for the coming winter and the hunter tires from the chase. A gull nips at his heels, and plunges back into the swells, he must be content with the odd fish and scraps from the strange ones who mass on the wharf each day and retreat by night until there is only the hunter and the goddess and two young men curled into the sand. I stand on the balcony and stare at the hunter wishing that sleep would come, that the white eye would blink, but the waves wash in and the harbor seals bark and the stars beat a slow retreat.
You sit on your self-made throne and stare at the night sky as clouds gather and dissipate beneath you. Do you even recall why you were cast out, condemned to your cell so vast yet infinitely confining? Does your body remember the touch of his hand the crude hunter who set you aflame with a white heat that paled the sun of summer? What do you imagine as tongues of the Perseids lick across the sky and disappear into the ebony holes that lurk in the corners of your eyes? You move slowly across my world and only the dawn brings you peace.
Today was downright exhausting, and my hour long walk along the river left me dripping and drooping. It wasn’t different than most days, same time, same place, and the usual 756 miles, according to my old friend Orion, who was watching from his usual perch, unseen, as he prefers it by day. When I was done, I started to complain about how I felt, when Orion interjected, “Just be thankful you’re not in Florida today, its hotter by far, and your usual walk would have covered a full 930 miles today, and there you’d have reason perhaps to complain just a bit.” Heading home to shower, I called out to Orion, “You know you are one heavenly pain in the ass.” “Yeah,” he replied, “that’s what Artemis said.”
Each night I stare up at the sky, scanning for the one star that is there solely to answer whatever entreaties I choose to make. It is said that we each have a lucky star, but perhaps, given the ever-expanding population of the world, mine is just too dim to see from the city in which I live, or perhaps, I simply haven’t found it, and addressing someone else’s star brings you nothing, not even thanks from the lucky soul who won the big lottery last week all at my urging, I mean how could I know it was their star I addressed with my request, it isn’t like they wear name tags after all. Still, I don’t give up trying, though I often swear that Orion and Cassiopeia spend a portion of every evening together just laughing their celestial asses off at me.
I want to tell her to look up
into the night sky and imagine
the stars are forming pictures
just for her alone, and what she sees
is what the cosmos intended all along.
She laughs when I say this,
says, the pictures were all taken
a thousand years ago
and given names, like Orion
and Cygnus, the Ursas.
I tell her that I see
many other things in the sky,
and when she presses me
for examples I point to what
she calls Orion’s belt.
What do you see, she demands,
and I pause, then say, ellipses.
Orion failed to appear last night which allowed the bears an evening of peace, certain they were not prey. They cavorted as bears are wont, to the pleasure of Cassiopeia. The lion stuck his head in, but lions know the bears need their space and anyway, they could see the dragon lurking on the horizon and even lions know you don’t mess with dragons more than once.
The moon etches itself into the cobalt sky. Orion rests on the margin of too tall eucalyptus that reach up to ensnare him. Luna’s face floats on the gently shifting pond staring up at the moon recognizing no one. She wonders why the stars move slowly as she sits transfixed. On the window sill Shakyamuni Buddha looks at me with his gentle smile and bids me goodnight.