WITH ME AND THE STARS No one can tie down the stars in one place, my father said as he explained how the summer constellations were different from those in December. The night air was hot and humid and, half-asleep, I sort of listened to him point out the shapes and in which part of the summer sky to look for these star clusters. Then he’d tell their stories, presenting an impression of whom the person or deity had been and the legend of how they’d arrived in the vast and dark sky. The soft sibilant rise and drop in the sound of cicadas made it easy to sort of sleep and hard to even half-listen, yet he never nudged me awake to pay attention to what he was teaching, never needed me to rattle back the lesson. He was happy to be in the back yard with me and the stars. Though I now turn to star charts and probe the old mythologies for what he’d already explained, I’m confident that in the end he recited the right answers to satisfy the forty-two gods of ancient Egypt. Yet I wonder how a heart so full of patience and love would be in balance with the weight of a feather. — But he’d know. LAUDEMUS Let us praise evolution that delivered the vulture with its ugly, bald head and its inbred protection against pernicious bacteria as it banquets on rank carrion. Let us also praise the possum, often spotted near roadkill. When attacked, this animal falls on its side, lips drawn back, teeth bared and its beady eyes half-closed, as if dead or dying. Now let us praise the grave, hollowed out by a backhoe, the gash in the ground, a narrow maw waiting for the lowered casket. Throw your handful of soil on top of the coffin and say a prayer for the hole in your heart, the looming days of dejection, dire nights tossing between the what-ifs and the whys, plus the sad truth of the empty side of your bed. Pray for an evolution toward calm acceptance and, when it comes, praise the healing, hallelujah, the healing.
Lenny Lianne was born in Washington, DC and raised in Northern Virginia. She is the author of five books of poetry including her latest, Sunshine Has Its Limits (Kelsay Books) and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University. Lenny is a world traveler, who now lives in Arizona with her husband and their dog.
Image: “Night Sky Over the Maple Trees” by Mmfgh under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 international license.