Tag Archives: stars

What I Brought Home

Summer comes hurtling towards earth on its heated equinox, an axis brought to a boil over months that travel at a fierce, flaming gallop.  Their intense progress swirls the sky into a seething panic.  And on its first day, the sun will bear night and day aloft at equal height, as Justitia holds the scales of justice.  The hours share the benefits of the new season, before autumn begins to claw its way towards its dark, harvest dominance.

I would venture out into the early summer evening, to watch the changing sky, the skeins of evaporating clouds, the caramel sun.  But when I returned, the only souvenirs I had were the constellations of mosquito bites on my arms and legs.  There was a cache of stars inside my elbow; burning recollections.  As I walked, I felt as if the remnants of that angry, heated day were seared into my skin…as if I carried shards of moons and stars back into my home.

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The Three Sisters

The sisters were bored. Mintaka, Alnilam and Alnitak had grown weary of their life in the sky, caught in the luminous circle of Orion’s belt: an existence of being mere accessories to an ancient, hunting constellation.

And to make matters worse, every October they observed, like envious astronomers, the descent of the Orionid meteor shower. They watched the bright veil bound for parts unknown: the blue and green planet that patiently awaited the radiant visitation.

Repeatedly they begged the night sky’s very patient empress – for the moon was surrounded by stars of varying ages, and had grown used to their supplications – if they might not just once be included in the festivities, just to see what the flamboyant illumination was all about. Surely Orion could look after his silly buckle and sword by himself.

Though the meteor shower never seemed to return, and despite the moon’s tedious explanations of atmospheres and ozones and burning dust, making the sisters wild with impatience – Alnitak actually swelled into a supergiant in her annoyance, threatening her figure – their opportuning continued.

Finally, weary of their tiny voices bouncing off latitudes and longitudes, traveling through endless light-years, the moon gave in.

On their given day of release, the sisters began their journey downward. They noticed the change in the air – its shape and texture: becoming thinner, harsher. Instead of the soft unchanging shadows at the top of the sky, they saw rushing by them a prism of colors: cobalt, turquoise, lavender, emerald, tangerine, bronze, cherry, ivory. They thrilled at the swift-moving kaleidoscope.

But this wasn’t the only change that the stars noticed. The moon, ever considerate of her wayward children, made sure that the stars’ arrival would be no cause for alarm. The stars would not crash into the earth with an undignified thump, to be left wallowing in the depths of their personal craters. And as they were promised a jaunt amongst humanity, they were given the shapes of women. And since they were the daughters of the lunar queen, they were given royal status: the three sisters became princesses. Finally, feeling creative and compassionate, the moon also made them impossibly beautiful. Their flesh became as fragrant as tinted power, their cheeks, fingertips and elbows were touched with rouge, their lips were as soft as honey. Their substance was made from the delicate wreckage of a ladies boudoir.

They journeyed through histories and centuries. Their gowns and veils swirled about their bodies and faces like galaxies. This irony was not lost on them and they made a note to thank their clever mother for her wit as soon as they returned. Mintaka, at least, the most distant and introverted of the sisters, intended on keeping this promise.

They had a lovely time. The irresponsibility, the freedom from the astrological maps embedded in the charcoal-colored firmament…the earth was such a lovely place. But then they discovered something else.

It made a rushing, cold sound that vibrated beneath their feet. There was a sense of movement, of hidden life – of a foreign world made of silver, salt and scales: if they knew what those things were.

Beyond curious, they once again asked to be shown one more new world. Beyond annoyed, the moon listened…but to the sisters’ surprise she quickly agreed upon realizing the nature of their request. So a basket was fashioned for the girls to delicately step into – and they were softly lowered from the green bluffs onto the gentle, sighing ocean.

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And they enjoyed themselves mightily. The pale horizon, the glitter of shark’s teeth and fishes’ breath beneath the water, the kelp forests, the tireless birds, the grottos made of pearls and coral. They could have floated aimlessly forever.

They did not realize that the moon had a plan. For she was ruler of the oceanic rhythms: every time she had a whim to do so, she would cast a silken line rigged with invisible hooks and pull the tides towards her. And on the evening when Orion’s complaints got to be too much- something about a lack of embellishments – the moon, as well as catching the tide, made sure that she secured the sisters’ floating basket as well.

As a result, on that night the tide was unusually high…and stargazers were amazed to see a trio of stars actually ascending, until they returned to their homes, becoming the stationary jewels decorating Orion’s belt once more.

Autumn Is Beckoning

I think autumn is beckoning.  I can see its witchy fingers lengthening, the dark and daring shades.  They leave shadowy scars across summer’s honey-colored skin and I welcome that fleshy damage.  It is a stinging reminder that soon it will be time to leave.  It was a heady three months, but the equinox of bronze harvests is coming and the dog days of August must now slip back into their collars.

Cats, which for weeks lay like silk carpets of muscle and bone on baking sidewalks, became emboldened by the muzzled days.  They basked like soft icons in the long afternoons; in shadows stretching like Nosferatu, they clenched their eyes and listened for the onset of the hunting season.

I too listened for the harvest-colored season – the fields and orchards in the sky.  I smelled the wheat, the cherries, and the corn that rejoiced above my head.  I heard the hunter’s moon rise through their rustling acres.  And I so wished I could taste the atmospheric bounty that ripened above me.

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It’s possible that I soon will.  When the days are no longer heavy; steaming under a layer of captured heat and moisture – a boiling, constricted mist.  When the nights are clear and the planets glitter like sequins in a diamante veil.   And the moon, swathed in her stark and chilly shroud will roam at will, dressed for the harvest, bearing her starry scythe.

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But there is some waiting to be done.  Still, occasionally, a cold and sly wind will slip through the dense weather.   Or I will see a leaf or two – tinted with ginger or caramel – at my feet.  It isn’t much.

But it is enough for me to know.

That autumn is beckoning.

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Weather Vane

The dolphin curved and bounded with great joy within the confines of its blue home – a generous playground.  It billowed like a ship through the maritime air with a prow that rode the winds with a smiling, salty grace.  It mocked and teased the still, morning air which expanded into a pelagic horizon cursive with waves:  rolling and breaking at its bidding.

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Air currents rubbed against the dolphin’s metallic skin with the insistency of the purring sea.  Sparrows and mockingbirds turned into seagulls; the stoic houses beneath it whales; and the lawns became ocean floors, littered with shells and jewels.  A tiny corner of my neighborhood transformed by the presence of a spinning statuette held high above a singular roof, a winsome silhouette held in the grip of the weather’s caprice.

The happy, airborne creature had paused in its gambols over the four winds:  their full cheeks and blowing curls building a cherubic compass.  It breached over a quadrant of arrows that pointed towards the vast corners of an earthly mansion, defining the map that sailed across the sky.  It laughed at the free-wheeling cartography that floated like stars, wrapping it in constellations and the trails of planets – the latitudes and longitudes of its joyful home.

Theda Bara

The twilight came

Shuttering like an eyelid

Cobalt and kohl stained

Theda Bara stretched across the sky

 

Her golden cobras

Spat and curled into the sunset

Her venomous hair crawling

Her dark vanity and vampire perfume

 

Sparking through her curls

Stars pierced her dangerous skin

Blood dripping towards the sun

And bubbling like a witches’ brew

 

Then the moon came

To scold her wayward minions

For making her rise

To defend a fellow goddess in pain

theda

 

Starry

Like children, they shoot and fall

Tumbling across the sky

A celestial playground

They slip across the icy dark

The freezing velvet

Wrapping them in a bitter grasp

Like pins of light, with silver thread

They pierce nighttime’s skin

And make it hum with myth and life

They stir inside the arching bowl

Pouring like bright honey

Into a hive of galaxies

Like youthful broods they gather close

To their moonlit mother

A family of constellations

They glitter in twilight’s window

Celestial gems

That hang beyond our outstretched fingers

falling star

Flying Tigers, 1941

The tiger was weary.  All night it had been on the prowl, weaving past the wolves, dogs, bulls, lions and bears that lived in star-like reticence in the black sky.  It forded rivers that spanned galaxies, startling the sleeping dragons whose scales glittered like the brilliants in heaven's parure. 

It had stumbled once or twice, knocking some stars loose from the plush firmament.  Some fell, causing considerable excitement on a planet many light years away.  But some stuck fast in the tiger's hazy bones, a promise of the starry silhouette that was to come.  The tiger tried to shake itself free of the sparkling irritants but was unable to – its cloudy body merely changed shape across the twilight sky.

But now the air was changing color.  Threads of lavender, amber, sapphire and gold glimmered in the vast fabric.  Running from the iridescent light, the tiger found a cloud and wrapped itself in a bed of fog and rain.

For a brief time the tiger slept soundly.  Unfortunately, it snored a little, bending the air currents into angles that the smaller birds found hard to navigate.  Suddently it was awake.  There was a noice – incessant, droning, loud and endless.  The tiger looked:  beneath it, smelling of oil and dirt, was a flock of steel crosses.  It raised a cumulus-swathed claw to bat away the annoyances, but stopped.  On the sides of these metallic bodies were inanimate red jaws and white, arched teeth. 

This was a confusing sight, yes – but familiar too.  So the tiger, out of consideration for these shrill relatives, pulled back its thunderous paw.

And the tiger went back to sleep, to dream of lingering adventures in silent, peaceful skies.

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The Sun Was Jealous

I take whatever chance I can to look into the sky and observe what mischief goes on there.  Recently I saw an example of waywardness that could only be described as shocking.

That particular day, the sun was frosted and white.  In an act of sheer lunacy, he was trying to disguise himself as the moon, his cold, glittering rival. He had discarded his burnished glow and in a fit of pique had denied the earth his radiance.  He didn't feel like setting in a bath of colors – no.  He was tired of his dreary afternoons, hanging alone in an empty blue arc; or of having his golden face swathed in capricious clouds, ready to take flight at the merest tickle of wind.

He envied the moon so many things – her starry handmaidens, arrayed around her like a crown floating in the sky; her opaque glow, her cool grace of pearls.  He had grown weary of his heat, and the sweat on his brow.  The people, so far below, would never look at him, and it was depressing.  He wished he could change shapes, become a half, a quarter, a crescent…crescents which were carved out of gems and worn in ladies' hair, crescents which were embroidered into Diana's cloak as she hunted across the sky of shadows.

The sun was jealous.  He wanted the moon's authority – she controlled the tides, the oceans of the world.  She could catch the waves in her illuminated net and pull them onto shore; or she could demand that the water be patient and wait for her call.  The moon had the feminine audacity to cross the path between sun and earth; so he would merely flare in futility around her eclipsing edges.  She even exerted a strange power over human women every month.

The moon cascaded across the sky.  She paraded in a shining orbit, bowing in front of a black curtain made bright by galaxies, planets and stars.  The sun felt immobile and foolish, wavering slightly on his axis, condemned to be an undefined and stationary glare.

So on that day, the sun decided to make the bold move and steal the moon's pale robes, hoping that no one would notice.  I did.

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