Within reach of sex but not yet, I remember, a few stars freckling the vacancies past the yard’s blown flood beams and father’s single sycamore. Expert amateur, I thought myself, aged thirteen, rabid for facts and trying to have a mind for what each light was. This I knew: arrivals of gaseous crackups wholly unlike us, and not pinpricks, nor quaint connect-the-dots, nor tiny stabs of will. Sky’s Zenith, Lyra, The Great, The Small Bear. Hopes rose. It was before the boys and window escapes, before breakup seeped into the house like bad water. I loved stories of staying in place. In the one about the ancient astronomer on the day of eclipse, after he’d gazed his naked sight away, he thought he saw the sun giving birth to itself and scrawled, half blind, in a notebook, as if wood fought back to eat the fire. Meanwhile, our lawn sparked with mother’s rake tines upraised, sound of door slam and squabble inside, squeal of brakes rounding out the drive. And if I wanted one clean, one lesser loyalty, wishing so hard on that old onlooker? I could see him at full kneel in dirt unflinching, begging the above to smote what’s bulk, the words arcing slowly up, saying, burn me all to star, o fathers. I understood nothing of their pain. Already, close to home, the sycamore leaves in full heat looked edgeless, each dark on dark blurring the shapes as if we were all dropped through: Zenith, Lyra, The Greater, The Lesser, The True.
Copyright 2005 by Pimone Triplett, from The Price of Light. Reprinted with permission from Four Way Books. All rights reserved.