Well past midnight in a cold November
We bundle up to stare at the skies
Stumbling out into the darkened yard
Two urban souls pretending country eyes
How many times I've tried to teach this show
Using all those stories there
To hide the things my eyes can't know
But tonight --
ah, tonight my world is waltzing through the glow
deliriously happy in the crackling air
The shapes come out like scattered Christmas snow
And I am being taught things older than old.
Above me reigns the vain Queen Cass
With weak-willed Cepheus as dull as he deserves
Nearby the dippers circle through forever
Divided only by old Draco's wand'ring line
(I think I find the dragon dim with shame
to be denied our axis once again
and see it granted to the Ursid's tail --
Too bad, my friend, you find our fickle earth
wobbling over to embrace its newer pole.
Oh well, we've never been that loyal...)
And now for Orion, that hunter bold
Placed in the sky by the grief of the moon.
And what in return for her gift?
Only the whining of a bored sportsman
in need of entertainment
(let's face it -- today the guy'd be glued to Monday Night Football).
And so we add the bull, the dogs, to keep the master fit
While Lepus shivers underneath in hopes he won't get bit.
Betelgeuse, Rigel, and the rest
Stars named by an Arab watcher in a time
When my kind forgot to think.
Strange to imagine a Dark Age
While such bright heralds still exist...
It's still too early for Sirius
although he's likely sparkling through the trees
And so I turn to Taurus.
The sky's so clear that even I can find the Pleiades.
"The Seven Sisters!" I exclaim.
You grunt, still busy fiddling with your toys --
you can't be bothered seeing something that will still be there.
And just like that I'm taken out of stories.
The sky is just the sky --
It's cold and big and dark.
The pictures made of suns so far away
the light was born too long before we met.
I stare and stare
but all that reaches out is space.
Then, "come see," you wave
and reluctantly I head toward that lens
the thing you've pointed at a light I couldn't place.
I look and, to my shock, as clear as hope
A circled disc appears to dance before my face.
"Saturn. It's really there," I whisper, "and so close..."
You ask if I can see division in the rings -- and I --
I say I just can't find division here tonight.
I feel your grin as you take up my hand
Encircled so much warmer than that world.
We stand in stars together, you and I
And once again I tell you of the sky.
This was written quite a long time ago, and the feelings it describes are much older than that. It's very uneven, but it's interesting to me to see how my style's changed since then. According to my notes I was purposefully alternating more poetic rhymes with free verse to give the impression of alternating between being swept up in the wonders of sky mythology and being brought back to earth. Erm, so to speak. I'm not sure now that it works, but you've got to give points for the effort.
The man in the poem? Someone I dated. Ages ago. No idea where he even is now. He was convenient for the poem, though, because when we'd go out to look at the sky together he really would be fooling around with some toy or other. I always thought he was missing the best part of the show, but to each his own.
One other thing: in case you couldn't tell from this very wordy poem, I'm extremely nearsighted. That'll explain some of what's in there.