Waiting for Comet Neowise

When I pull onto Sunset Beach Road

in the purple twilight,

a couple is already standing entwined

in front of their truck,

tail lights pointed at Lake Michigan,

peering into the western sky;

I am not the only one who

thought to watch from the bay.

Do you see anything? they ask,

without preamble, as though

there is not a global pandemic, as though

it’s still normal to talk to strangers.

(Old habits die hard, we are

steeped in neighborliness borne of necessity

from years of Midwest winters,

I suppose.

Would the Ingalls have survived

without Mr. Edwards?)

Not yet, I say.

Underneath the just visible Ursa Major,

the wetlands are spread out like a feast:

mosquitoes, crickets, frogs,

bats and terns and herons,

muskrats, possums,

me.

For tonight’s music, we have just

the crickets, and the bullfrog’s call

like a plucked banjo string,

the same note over and over,

deep and slow.

The pale light from the just-gone sun

paints the marsh pools with quicksilver,

as though the thin skin of the earth

has been peeled back by the dirty thumb of a giant,

the cattails and the reeds,

the gravel trails, the jagged pines,

all torn away –

but instead of dirt and rock,

instead of fossils and magma,

there has always been light,

waiting for us

to shine.

So though we stand and squint and look up,

waiting for darkness to pool around us,

all I see,

and only when I look slightly askance,

is a smudge of light

across the deep blue brow

of the horizon,

like a holy mark

done in haste

by an indifferent thumb.

But we stand a little while longer

on the warm road,

pointing out

the faint streak to another watcher

who pulls up alongside us,

passing the light from one

to another, sharing light

out of our unwashed chalice

at the feast.


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