Be happy in your home and children
and your people and your king
said Odysseus before continuing his journey.
So I am taking his advice
because I am happy in my grown sons
this Thanksgiving season--
in the way they sat around their mother's table
and talked and laughed in voices
that rose and fell and rose and fell
like the waves of a wine-dark sea.
To see the sky spit out a mouthful of stars
You have to go someplace dark--
A cemetery, perhaps, where you and your husband
Stand on a wet, grassy knoll
(With a buck who is as surprised
By your appearance at 4:30
In the morning as you are by his)--
All to watch stars tumble through the clouds.
Do you see anything? Your husband asks.
Do you? You're not sure.
Maybe that really was a
Flash of light you just saw,
A star skittering across the night,
The thing you had hoped to see
As you stand out here with a deer
In the dark on a knoll in the cemetery.
As any rate, the experience is
Different than you'd wanted it to be.
You wanted to be bathed in light and sparks
And feel the dust of the stars themselves
Settle on your hair like sunlight
On a January day--cold heat.
Still, you'll take that flash of light
You thought you saw and own it--
Your souvenir of the meteor shower.
You should have seen it,
My crabapple tree--
Amber leaves all gone but
Filled still with small red fruits,
Dangling like garnets
From dark-armed branches.
Believe me when I tell you
It was beautiful. Truly.
You'll have to take
My word for it, though.
The berries are gone now,
Thanks to a mob
Of cedar waxwings--
Those masked bandits--
That descended on the tree
And picked it clean,
More beautiful still,
Its limbs, slim and bare,
Locked in an elegant embrace
With the new winter sky.