Other nights I have dismissed the darkness, forgetting in sleep the all-but-empty sky Call me an eager acolyte of the rational tradition -- I thought magic a wispy phantom, conjured in insufficient dreams I should have known -- I saw shooting stars the last three nights, burning brilliantly out of nowhere against an idle background, just when I had finally concluded that I knew every constellation, when I had weighed the sky and found it wanting Between my lips, your kiss lingering there, I still feel the magic that shakes the very stars from the heavens I am too wise to hope too much yet I am happy to find that I am smiling, out of nowhere-- 1991
Running under the stars at night, I am accompanied by the rhythm of my footfalls and the wordless, patient whisper of my breath Sprinklers hiss moistly, invisibly, preparing the ground for the onset of desert morning A teenage couple lingers in the cone of a street light, embracing at the curb, the car door standing open Their date is over but their evening is not -- not just yet A face gritty with razor stubble flares into existence, glowing dull red from a cigarette lighter, then disappears a second later into the blank darkness, leaving only a bobbing red dot which soon also fades from sight The Orionid meteor shower has returned: fifteen times the earth has swung imperturbably around to trouble this patch of sky, fifteen years since I last wrote of it And what? I am still wakeful, and another kiss lingers between my lips I am much stronger now, somewhat wiser, and a little grey -- once again starting over, and still taken by surprise by the reliable inconstancy of the heavens Now I turn to run directly into it, finally doubting no more, permitting the radiance to pierce me straight through-- Fall 2006, 12:26 a.m.
It is 3 a.m. I am suddenly and inexplicably blinking and awake This year my daughter sleeps next to me, with her sleeping bag close and warm around her ears Earlier, lying there looking up, we traced out constellations She told me messages she read in the stars I saw only wordless points and figures of light She told me, Daddy, you have to believe in magic The earth, with us riding along, has made its annual plunging return through the Orionids Shocked and scorched by the sudden atmosphere, a few of them end a billion years of silent flight in a radiant burst -- afire for seconds at most, but oh, the beauty-- October 2007
Still awake in the dark one vacation weekend, we're sitting on the hood of the car, in the warm breeze looking up She's jaded now, no longer eight but almost fourteen The starry vault of the heavens has pivoted around in its slow entirety a half-dozen times, through winter constellations and summer Math is boring One boy is jealous of the way she talks to another boy Hoops dangle from her ears Self-aware, she knows what her hair looks like at every moment And she knows good coffee from bad She points and says, "Hey Dad, did you see that shooting star? Do you remember watching for them when I was little?" ... Does not a forest ... remember the very rain that made it possible?-- July 2013, 11:02 p.m.
Through the tent flap framed by sharp black pine silhouettes to left and right, moonless sky glows less dark; Sirius and Procyon shine faithful and radiant near old Orion Almost sixteen now High school half over She tells me things now that scare me but not her She pitched the tent and made half of dinner Six months old in bright red footie jammies she grinned and giggled as I held her aloft A meteor shoots left At fifteen months she first wobbled to her feet grinning again And another Before any of that, Her mother and I talked alone outside one night about this time of the evening about the idea of her: What if we ... She sleeps I sleep Before dawn in the same black-pine silhouetted frame through the same tent flap now strides Scorpio, high and elaborate another side of the sky entirely-- March 2015, 3:48 a.m.