Monday, 28 December 2015

This night belongs to...

The only thing in life that should make you feel small is the sight of the night sky. Nothing realises that sense of insignificance quite so keenly as when you stare up into the not-quite-blackness and thing how far away the stars are and then consider that what you can see is actually quite close (in both time and space) compared to what lies beyond.

It reminds me of when I was a kid and I used to write “This book belongs to…” plus my name and address in my books. To my address I would add 

Planet Earth
The Solar System
The Milky Way
The Universe

It seemed very clever (to me and to every other kid who wrote the same thing). A child’s way of making sense of the vastness of everything.

I still feel this way though. I felt it a couple of weeks ago when I was outside to view the Geminid meteor shower. It was a cold night for early summer, or rather, a cold morning – the shower began around 2am. Barefoot on the deserted street outside my house, I got a chair and sat down. I was wearing pyjamas and a poncho. I felt as though I was in a pop-up book that had just been opened. An odd lone figure in an unusual streetscape. 

I didn’t know quite what to expect but then the first bright streak of a meteor loped across the sky. Then another. Then another. All in all, I saw 12  - not a shower exactly, more a scatter. 12 wishes for me. 12 lines in the resulting poem.

The resulting art that I have put at the beginning of this post. Because I am not an astrophotographer, it is an imagining of what a shower would look like if you could see it from the city, if there were not so much light pollution.

It was a magical experience - one worth the effort. 

This night belongs to 

Western Australia
Planet Earth
The Solar System
The Milky Way
The Universe


Alone and cold and pondering
This lazy gold procession.
As warp and weft of arcing light
Create the canvas of the night –
A tinselled swathe of lazuli,
A dazzling impression.

Awake, aware, and witnessing
Each startling incision.
Fragments of burning long-ago
Scoring the blue intaglio,
Etch their own glowing eulogy,
A fiery inscription.

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