Along the dark street the group moves sporadically -
talking earnestly together - gesticulating - laughing.
A wry comment bares bone.
Excited, I toss back my head,
Caught up in the argument, eager to temper the point.
The brilliant stars snap me off-guard.
Arrested, I pause, the rejoinder forgotten.
The stars are magnificent!
I have never seen so many - so close - so aggressive.
My hot mind jumps frenetic with information.
The stars are disturbing.
Strangely unsettled by their boldness
I scan the confusion of constellations anxiously.
I need a resting place;
I am vibrating.
The stars mock my shrinking eyes.
Quickly now, nervously, I search through the mass.
At last, focussed, the Big Dipper looks back.
My heart smiles: in the frantic galaxies a friend!
Warmth - delight - (and I chuckle) - security.
My foolishness is ludicrous.
Leering at me, ridiculing Fantasy,
Analysis rears its probing nose scornfully.
Conspiratorially, winking at the tippy Dipper,
I shove Knowledge into an Iron Box and solder the lid.
Across the sky a flare streaks briefly, and another.
Shooting stars! My breath catches.
Balefully I glare at the Iron Box, but it doesn’t rattle.
Wide-eyed I encompass the dazzling midnight,
responsive to the pulsing stars.
Suddenly, Nonsense is shattered.
I expand to the cosmos - expand - and expand.
I feel motion.
I shall implode with infinity.
With a fearsome ecstasy I know galaxies are whizzing
through space; atoms are spinning in me.
The universe pounds into me.
My body is an unbearable prison.
With compelling energy the stars call. They reach for me.
A terrible tuition nearly dissolves my mind.
I can answer!
Frightened almost witless I jabber at sanity:
“I have a body. I have a soul. They are me!
Do I dare to divide them - capriciously?
Violently, my soul tugs for freedom.
Now that I know, I cannot deny its right.
“Go, then,” I cry out, “but please -please come back.
I will be nothing without you - an empty shell.
They will say I am dead.”
With horrible awe I watch my spirit leave me,
like a wisp of cellophane on a shining thread.
I see it rising far - far from me,
leaping for the cauldron of creation.
The risk is absolute.
“No! Come back. Come back!”
Turning, my soul clearly regards me.
I can see myself from its great height,
with my arms outstretched,
my fingers twisted in the cord.
I can feel its indecision, its torment,
its overwhelming desire to yank free the tether.
Through my tears I beg, “Please come back.”
The hesitation is incalculable. It comes quickly,
formless and vital back from the glowing sky.
I reach for my spirit and wrap it to me gently,
absorbing it in a closed embrace.
“Dear God!” I cannot stop sobbing or shaking.
Around me my friends clamour, “Are you all right?
What happened? We were just ahead …”
Carefully, I unlock my trembling arms.
“Yes, I’m fine. I’m all right. I really am”
And then I belie my very words.
I set off running down the midnight street
singing wild arpeggios of star songs.
Cynthia Buell Thomas