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For weeks, my dreams have shimmered with datura blossoms and red sand woven into memories of his touch. I've escaped Canada's spring blizzards to follow a double hunger. I'm one of a dozen friends he's drawn to this place from a circle of far-flung cities.
We gather at the campground amphitheatre, where the ranger has set up his telescope on this desert night. He shows us three celestial marvels.
M80: A tightly packed crowd of stars orbiting a common center of gravity.
Back at his campsite, firelight flickers on the circle of sunburnt faces, and the crack of burning pinyon punctuates our stories—Anasazi potsherds, early sego lilies, a roped descent.
Saturn: The second-largest planet in our solar system, orbited by 60 known moons.
The planet sits under Leo's paw. Shielding our eyes from the firelight, we squint to make out the disc of whirling rocks and ice, imprisoned by gravity. I imagine the moons struggling to reach escape velocity and fling themselves into the void.
Mizar-Alcor double star: Two stars in overlapping orbits around a common center of mass, held together by their mutual gravitational pull and appearing as one to the naked eye.
I say good night and leave the dying embers, glancing up for a last glimpse. The twinned star in the Dipper's handle flickers and disappears behind an invisible cloud. Walking through the darkness past his tent to mine, the voices fade into murmurs.
Dawn light fingers the horizon as I begin the long drive north.
in clay pots on the windowsill
yucca seeds sprout