Astral Bodies

People claim astral bodies like sports teams.

A volunteer manning a telescope shouts Andromeda! 

Who wanted to see Andromeda!

A heavy shadow of a woman eagerly bustles

To the front of the line. Her shape leans and crouches

To level her eye with the lens. Inaudibly, she quietly

Coos at crowded conversations, overlapping,

stepping into one another – a star cluster light years 

overhead. Her wonder is like mine –

my eye carefully unfocusing to see Jupiter.

 

The volunteer manning a telescope explains how

I won’t see the moons of Jupiter if I look straight on.

Find the fuzzy object. Let it move to the side 

Of your vision – look avert, or you’ll miss it.

At his instruction I see three moons nearly out of my vision.

At his instruction, I’ve grown relaxed in the fuzziness of 

All bodies. The children who riot over the meteors falling

With long blue trails of catastrophe. My family argue

About the cloudy sky – it’s just clouds, just clouds – ah!

It’s The Milky Way! Stubborn certainty turned to billions

Of distant dimensional objects. Ah! My aunt says, Ah!

 

A red coated volunteer sights his green laser on M13, 

a star cluster held together by gravity, almost as old 

as the universe. The volunteer sights the cluster in the eye

Of a telescope. I see tightly laid glitter that reminds me

of this blue Barbie dress of my childhood.

 

What would happen if it all came unglued? 

If the invisible binding force fell away and each star became 

Solo– 

not proximal to the others that together become named objects? 

Perhaps colliding into Hercules, unbinding the points of his story. 

 

Days ago we sat in red chairs at a red metal table

Sipping coffee and you said, isn’t it funny it’s easiest to fall?

Chuckling at yourself, you said, well, that’s gravity!

You talked about the walls falling down. How the story falls

Away when the raw wood of stage framing becomes clear, 

Ugly, and gaping. How – untrained, looking at the stars

 

they are bright burning objects without mythology. 

Without gravity, there is no Hydra, Lyra, or Perseus. 

 

Rioting children grow bored of the dark sky and tell 

Their own stories – 

mom and dad might be long lost relatives and so my mom 

could be my long lost cousin or grandma 

and my dad could be my cousin or my uncle! 

 

Children keep tugging at rules of gravity– 

tugging harder when the sound of adult voices steer

them toward civility. A shower of meteors suddenly spills 

out of the black of the sky. A child leaps into the night, 

one eye closed, to catch dying stars in his fists.

Althea Seloover, 2020