We call it a starfield,
which seems as nice a name as any.
There is, after all,
peace in creation’s
creeping self-destruction.

Even before humans slipped
ships into the sea,
never mind the skies,
we softened the world’s endless
layers of strangeness
in comforting, familiar words.
“Four corners” of earth,
the “bosom” of the ocean,
“veils” of heaven,
“ribbons” of stars.

Now we drift through space,
wondering about the “here”
of wherever we happen to be,
remembering the “there”
of where we once were,
marking maps with borders
that fail to contain the growing
void between us.

I look out at nothing: blackness
backwards and forwards, punctuated
by distant stars, pinpricks of promise,
porchlights calling to weary travelers…

Those familiar words again.

I remember the ships launching, grand
firework streams scalding the sky,
and the small mercy of stealing
one last night with you
before we boarded our own blind
lifeboats, never to meet again.

Grandpa used to talk of his navy days,
of fighting with everything he had not to sink
beneath the weight and gravity of distance,
buoying himself with a single thought:
he and Grandma, each alone, could look up
and find comfort in the same night sky.

We at least have that.  As we crawl
across the darkness, each waking
finds us further and further apart,
but the stars remain unmoved.

Andrew Gilstrap lives in the woods of South Carolina with his wife, two kids, a fluctuating population of dogs and cats, and never-ending leaves to rake.  His work has appeared in Lakeside Circus, Star*Line, and Mythic Delirium

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