No moon, and the black sky so alive with stars at first I can't find
the Dippers. You're showing me how to see faint objects with averted
vision. I'm chilled through layers of clothes. Red light shines on
star charts, and a brief meteor trail in the sky: even rocks burn.
Bend to the telescope. Your hand on my back gives an impression of
warmth. There's a blind spot on the nasal side of the retina, you say,
and an abundance of cones on the temporal side.

Look away. The object moves into one eye's blind spot, but the other
eye's most sensitive. Now close the blind eye. A distant world springs
into clarity.

Your head is turned away from me. The bathroom windows are blacked out
with garbage bags to save our night vision; against its wall is the
broken body of a sparrow some animal got at. We carry our equipment
back to the car and prepare for home. Turning on the light, you put
out the stars. In the car there's no conversation. A pothole catches
the tire, and halfway down the hill, the fog waits to greet us.

Copyright © 2008, Joanne Merriam

OAS Star Party

Image Credit: a4gpa, some rights reserved

Joanne Merriam is a former Royal Astronomical Society of Canada member who now lives in New Hampshire. Her poetry has appeared recently in Strange Horizons, Asimov's and Stand Magazine. You can find her at