Star party at Wagman's Observatory in Deer Lakes ParkA wrongheaded choice, I see now,
to search the stars, but know too little of stars—
the times when I lay, impatient
beside a sleepless toddler,
waiting for the even breathing that would release me,

and peered through frost-ferned windows
imagining I could see the belt of Orion,
while in the sky behind me
Orion, a hundred eighty degrees around,
stood winking at my nebulous hold on facts.

And later on, when I sat grade-schoolers down
in front of Nova, reverent,
and scattered NASA photos like cupcake sprinkles,
my head was still in the clouds
(though they hid the comet, that freezing night in the schoolyard)—

What business did I have
aiming the star-eyed young at physics departments,
at nights in mountain observatories
listening for beings who might not even have breath,
when all I want from the night
is whatever the psalmist heard, that shout of glory?

I know this much: the cosmos
is flying apart. The old drift off the signal.
The children have reached lightspeed.
The galaxies move away
in search of work in a more exciting city.

Copyright © 2010, Maryann Corbett

Image Credit: SchultzLabs, some rights reserved

Maryann Corbett is the author of two chapbooks, Dissonance (just out from Scienter Press) and Gardening in a Time of War (Pudding House, 2007), and a winner of the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize and the Lyric Memorial Prize. Her poems, essays, and translations have appeared or will appear in River Styx, Atlanta Review, The Evansville Review, Poetry East, Water~Stone Review, The Chimaera, Umbrella, and many other journals in print and online.