Winter Stars in a Summer Sunrise

Away from the light that bleeds all night
into the sky, we have stirred the dust
and pitched our tents to wait
for the moonless night, when light falls
and then rises into pin-point stars, into dust

and gas of the great galactic smear, this
Milky Way, our home halfway on a rough-edged,
spiral arm.  Saturn in Aquarius, Jupiter
in the scorpion’s claw, the dim blue wanderers
so far out, though the stars are farther,

they will be lifetimes rounding the sun.
Down here we have turned away
from the lavish moon to be dark, to lose
sight of our hands and move like shadows,
trusting our feet over unknown ground.

All night we tilt our mirrors to the light
and name a familiar sky: Cassiopeia, Andromeda,
Cygnus and Perseus, Ursa Major snuffling west.
All night the ancient stories burn: beauty’s
brag and the sea’s revenge, hubris, devotion,

the lovers breathing under their animal skins,
until Orion, the long lost husband, rises
before the dawn, and we lie down in the mercy
of darkness, each star intimate
as all we have ever longed for, and lost.

Willow Springs, 1996