by Christen Lee
Astronomers predicted the Tau Herculids meteor shower
to be an all-or-nothing event,
a once-in-a lifetime sighting that could light up the sky
with as many as 1,000 meteors per hour.
It was Memorial Day.
The kids and I waited until the sun sank low in the west,
imagining how the night would dazzle like never before.
We watched the dusk bleed orange into violet,
stretch long shadows across the wide lawn until full dark.
At ten o’clock, pajamaed and yawning,
we ventured outdoors
walked hand in hand under a
charcoal canvas of black.
We craned our necks, allowing our eyes to adjust as distant dots
of white, faint yellow began to glow.
Look! Look! At the hundreds of pulsing points pulling our eyes
east then west,
south until the trees blocked our view
then north, buttressed by peaked rows of homes.
And while not a single meteor grazed our line of view,
the marvel of the cosmos filled us
poured over into excited gestures
as we pointed, guessing the names and ages of stars
so many million light years away.
And in that hour, the dark receded from our eyes
illuminated by the hope of the unknown.
Finally overcome by sleep, we carried ourselves inside,
our heads falling heavy with so much light and time.
They said it would be an all-or-nothing event
and they weren’t wrong.
Huddled together under that canopy of unyielding light,
we had it all.
* * * * *
Christen Lee is a family nurse practitioner in Cleveland, Ohio. Her writing has been featured in the Literary Cleveland’s Voices from the Edge Anthology, Rue Scribe, The Write Launch, Aurora, Humans of the World Blog, Sad Girls Club, 2022 New Generation Beats Anthology, Wingless Dreamer and is forthcoming in The Voices of Real 7 Compilation.