He asked her what she did, and
the question surprised her. Most
didn’t ask that until much later on,
but she replied, “I am a historian.”
He said, “Isn’t that an odd profession,”
quickly adding, “and I don’t mean for a woman.”
“It is,” she smiled, “but I fell in love
with history as a young girl,
and I’ve been fortunate to watch
stars being born and die, galaxies appear
as if from nowhere, seen events
that happened before our own sun was born.”
She could see he was confused, perhaps
that he thought her mad as others had.
She calmly added, “You understand,
I am an astronomer and all I see
is the history of our universe.”
The summer sky
barely pauses to consider
what might be going on
Everything seems to move,
there can be no stillness.
Once in the rarest
of whiles, the sky
and the river align,
and each is frozen
in a stasis that defies
understanding or categorization.
The stars realize this
and shine a moment longer.
The wisest of men
when asked at what time
it is best to pursue the Way
will answer: when a thousand stars
have made their presence known.
The wisest student will say:
when cleaning myself
by bathing in the mud.
This will become clear
to you when the frog
consumes the dragon.
Sirius, you arise each evening. Your braying
washes the night sky, as though to daunt us.
There was a time we stood in simple awe
having no idea how far away you skulked
or of your immenseness, a cold dark point
that could barely illumine our occasional thought.
Hawking sits pressed into his chair
held in a gravity with a force of a thousand
suns, all pulling toward a singular focus
and witnesses your slow death
collapsing inward, downward into
your seat on the heavenly chariot
until the moment when nothing
can escape. Hubble knew you all
too well, chasing you across the sky
as you dodged flitting just out of grasp.
You are the coyote, hiding by day
to avoid the hunter, knowing his steps
across the mesa, hearing his footfall
reverberating through the void.
Einstein knew you all too well,
although he rarely glanced upward
preferring to stare through his mind’s
eye, dissecting you, cutting you
into neat slices then reassembling
you and placing you back on the mantle
of his limitless imagination. We no longer
fear you, or for that matter, much care
your color fades into whiteness
and you are lost like another grain
of sand on the beach of time.
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.
Tonight the moon will gnaw
away at the stars, consuming them
much as the beaver consumes trees
to build a proper home.
We will stare at the moon, marvel
at its size, at its brightness,
wonder why we never noticed it
like this before, realize
it is because we are so young,
that our memory spans
an infinitesimal bit of time.
The moon will not notice any of this,
content to traverse the heavens
as she has done for what, to her,
is an eon and a moment, time
having no meaning to the eternal.
Many years ago,
I would sit in a small boat
and drop my hook
into the river, and wait
for the bass to strike.
Those were the days
when a large enough fish
would be served at dinner,
and smaller fish were thrown back
to heal in the water.
I no longer fish
but the river hardly
notices my absence.
Late in the night
I cast my hook
into the sky, hoping
to catch the wind’s voice,
and if its song is loud
to steal a few choice notes
to tuck away in my journal.
there are only the tears
of stars and the song
of the sleeping hawk,
a lullaby to the moon.