Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I watch the stars at night. It's a habit I've gotten into while the cowardly dog is off to the side, in the grass, making wet sounds and grunting like an old woman climbing a set of stairs. It's really better just to keep a firm hand on the leash, look up and think of far away places.

I also hold my breath. I can go about two minutes since I cut out the smoking. I only miss it during moments like this.

Standing on the sidewalk, I try to imagine which of the bright lights are planets and which are stars. One of them is maybe the sun of the doomed planet Krypton. Another isn't a moon, it's a space station waiting on the night side of Yavin.

On a good night, if I'm standing in the right direction and not overcome by the fumes, I can find my way to the Big Dipper and Orion's belt. The rest are a mystery. I didn't pay enough attention in middle school to remember which strings of pin points belongs to which constellation, but I look up and wonder about them.

Occasionally, a plane descending from on high and approaching the airport on the other side of the city will pass overhead. I always watch and think about the places they've come from, places I'd probably like to see. My standard middle-age complaint is I don't travel as much as I'd like. I'm a tourist who has no stickers on his suitcase.

Looking up at the stars, watching the planes pass overhead, I can't help but feel a little like a clam resting on the bottom of a harbor, looking up at the bottoms of boats. Of course, clams are blind and while they might not know it, should be grateful to not have noses or dogs, probably.

The leash maybe works both ways.

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