Waiting for the Perseids — a poem

With time to kill under the darkening sky,

I stoke a fire with cardboard and dried rosemary,

Listening to the crickets and frogs and loons,

and the distant rumbling of the night train.

The fuel catches and flames churn upward,

Flickering in broad leafy columns, never still.

Grey flakes wander lightly down through the evening air,

Harbingers of the long winter yet to come.

The chugging roar of my fire echoes the train,

air conditioners and rooftop fans nearby.

So bright, the flames, my yard is illuminated,

In the cool darkness, the heat is welcome on my legs.

When the rush dies down, the smoke is scented

sweetgrass and thyme rising and falling about me.

More stars speckle the midnight dome above

than I could ever hope to count in a lifetime.

And the Perseids come.

Am I imagining the streaks of light?

Brief lines of white?

Are my eyes, adjusting, playing tricks?

Or have I been welcomed by the universe?

I recognize satellites, and familiar patterns in stars,

as my head rests against the top of my chair.

And then — out of nothing — a bold lashing white

As a piece of a comet’s tail burns into our world.