The air is glacially black.
Red light flickers from cell phones of
girls who have as many years as there are moons in a year.
They peer into telescopes. Everything they see
merits a shriek: the green blear of Neptune,
the waxy pulse of a blue giant.
The volunteer astronomer's hair is white, frayed
like an agreeable halo of sheep dog.
At another station, three generations wait.
A father takes his turn at the lens for the first time.
His face is a jagged geology of an age before time, of bristle and dirt.
His mother prompts him.
'It's Mahs, ma,' he announces. 'Mahs, I said. You know, Mahs. It's a stah.'
It really doesn't matter that it's not a star. It's a planet,
as he is a planet—bruised by dried riverbeds of the past,
and prone to rust, but true, and still looking up.
He holds up his daughter in arms that know the weight of cinder blocks
and fallen trees.
She looks, and is made whole—an asteroid, swirling with color,
with knowing as surely as her learner's permit a few years later
and a dress for her first dance.
She huddles with her clan
in the curve of night, in the truest light.

Copyright © 2008, Meg Smith

Star Party, photo by Ken Schultz

Image Credit: Ken Schultz, some rights reserved

Meg Smith is a writer, journalist, Oriental dancer and student of Arabic language and Middle Eastern culture living in Lowell, Mass.

Her writing has appeared in The Gothic Revue, Gothicbard.com, Lost In the Dark, Dreams of Decadence, Gothic.net, The End, The Café Review, The Bridge Review, Pudding, Tryst, and others. Her poem, "Huracán," received an honorable mention from St. Martin¹s Press Year¹s Best Fantasy And Horror. She has published a book of poetry, The First Fire. She is editor and publisher of Red Eft, an occasional journal of fantasy, horror and speculative literature, now online at http://redeft.tripod.com. She is a staff writer for Jareeda, a trade magazine of Middle Eastern dance, and associate editor of Middle Eastern Dance in New England. She welcomes e-mail at firstfire@earthlink.net.