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July 1, 2012, vol 8, no 2

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Steven Carter

Discovery in the Sky

So he sips the passable merlot, sitting in a green and tan-colored wicker chair in the sun room, watching a carnival of colors on Swan Lake: pale yellows and blues and then, when the sun dips behind Crane Mountain, purples laced with orange, whitish-greens, silver-grays.

It's been nearly two years since the funeral, but only recently, a few months ago, does he find the courage to bring their photos, including the wedding quartet, out of a cedar chest and put them back on the mantle. Since her passing, he's noticed that his mind has begun to move—drift is a better word—in an unfamiliar, worrisome manner. Just this morning he observed two hummingbirds hovering over the deck, facing each other so their beaks were almost touching; oddly they reminded him of conspirators. What, he wondered, would hummingbirds conspire about if they could? What secrets would they share?

"I'd better be careful," he said out loud, "people will think I'm addled."

("I wonder where she is?" he remembers his wife saying over and over when her mother died fifteen years ago. "I just wish I knew where she is.")

He dozes in the chair, glass of merlot empty. On awakening, darkness has fallen and he knows it's time. Taking a pair of powerful binoculars off a shelf, he walks down to the pebbly beach, allowing his eyes to get used to the dark. A day earlier, excited astronomers announced a new supernova in the sky, proceeding to crunch data on magnitude, spectra, size of the mother star when it blew, etc.

Locating Orion's belt, he trains the glasses two or three degrees left until he sees it: a blossom of whiteness brighter than the moon.

Let astronomers have their fun; he knows what this is: a message, writ in hieroglyphics of light, sent from 21,000,000 light-years away in deep space, just to whisper something to us..

empty parlor
grandfather clock stopped

green and red running lights
on the lake
just one boat

three a.m.
night-bird in the trees