[the dam at Devil’s Kitchen].
2 am on a small lake in the middle-of-almost-nowhere is many things.
[insects and frogs and me]
[sigh of wind and susurrus of water flowing]
[no lights for miles].
I saw the Milky Way for the first time in a decade.
Stood on black asphalt, leaning on the white concrete of a small dam
[dark shallow waters below and behind me]
looking up at the stars
[scent of honeysuckle weaving together sound of water & brush of blown hair]
while mind gave body a surfeit of summer night
[wind on water on skin].
Stood on the inside of the Orion-Cygnus arm of the Γαλαξιαζ (Galaxias)
[standing in and looking out]
moving at approximately 0.07c (the speed of light)
[eyes ears tongue funneling the world backward into my skull]
looking outward at its edge
[neurons firing the reality of night & lake & galaxy].
Visual cortex filled to overflowing
[band of horizon skyglow rising 15° above black-spiked trees]
with a near-hemisphere of starry night
[dark pastel fade of cerulean to sapphire]
the attenuated night deepening quickly
[to silky midnight with diamond-bright flecks of fire].
And stretched behind that fire
[compressed by an angle 60° off the galactic plane]
the milky, rippling ribbon of paler flame
[stippled with staccato darkness: nebulae known but unseen].
Now the Milky Way hangs above the roof of my study
[shimmering as it spins through 600km/s]
but it is time and past time for me to go to bed.
So I will fall asleep on damasked sheets
[inside a minor arm of a barred spiral galaxy]
on a small side street in Carbondale, Illinois
[quietly merging with the Virgo stellar stream].
[I will not need sweet dreams].