When I was young, my sometimes difficult but indulgent mother took me to movies, the Carnegie library and on Saturdays to the Natural History Museum and allied Planetarium. God bless her. It was the space age and I loved the star shows and learned the constellations and their stories. I remember standing in the treeless yard of the next door neighbor girls and trying to catch a glimpse of Sputnik and later seeing Echo pass overhead.
I have forgotten a lot of constellations, as I have apparently deleted from consciousness quite a bit about Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses, another obsession from the same period. Light pollution being what it is, clear viewing of the night sky is not easy to come by, but I can still spot Cassiopeia, the Pleiades and a few others without too much trouble.
Of course, you’d have to be hopeless not to pick out the dipper circling the pole or the subject of the following. I jotted the first of these lines in the spring but wasn’t moved to finish it until the hunter appeared again recently. It may not be high art, but it is seasonable doggerel.
Return of the Hunter
He has vanished over the horizon’s stile,
The handsomest figure in the sky.
I wish he could linger into the spring.
Summer has fireworks, fall harvest moon,
The Dipper’s around in every season,
But he only goes hunting in chilly weather.
I imagine Orion in furs and leather
Coming over the hill with dogs, as in Breughel.
I’m glad the weather is finally warmer,
But I miss the big fellow when he’s not there.
I give a little start of surprise when,
One cool night in autumn, I glance at the sky
And see he’s back and find I’m cheered
That I’m here to greet him, he’s there
To greet me for another year.
In time even he will disappear, his stars —
Like my molecules — go their separate ways,
Shifting his shape into something less grand.
After an even more boundless stretch,
One by one those lights will wink out.
I‘m lucky, we’re lucky, to be alive
While he’s still striding across the night.