The Blue Ey'd Hag

She Grew Up To Write SF

The Star Lesson

~Suzanne Gross, 1975

My daughter came with me when I left

the house for the night and the star-rise

of spring. Above us the Dipper poured

darkness into the cottonwoods' bare

red branches and us. See, I said, there

is the Big Dipper. We call it that,

but in England its name is the Plough,

and Charles' Wain; the old Roman men

called it Ursa Major, the Great Bear.

Look, and I will show you. Do you see

the star at the tip of my finger?

that and the next are the tail; those four

like a box are the body and legs.

I see it, she said, I see it now,

but the bear is lying on his back.

Someday, I said, we shall find the crown

of Ariadne. Turn around now:

see, Orion the hunter is here.

One by one I touched her two shoulders

and feet, and traced on her the body

of the swimmer betrayed in the west.

I moved my hand slowly then over

her waist, and reached into the darkness.

There, I told her, is his belt of stars,

and see, he wears a sword of light, here,

at his thigh. Never before have I

seen it shining so clearly, so bright

as it is. Me too, my daughter said,

turning beside me as I turned to

let my vision go free through the crypts

and candescent arches of the night.

Cassiopaeia is there, I said,

sitting in her chair. My little girl

laughed. But I don't know where to find her,

I said. Oh look all around: we live

in a heaven of flames; what you see

burn through the night is our galaxy,

this blaze in the dark is our home.

The stars are not sparks or diamonds;

they are not the souls of the dead, nor

the campfires of angels, nor fireflies

in the wolf-willow groves of the moon.

Each is a sun immenser than ours,

a measureless fire revolving,

a world, a word, of elemental

breath that has burst into flame. The more

that we learn how to look into this

burning lens, the more we see there are

countless stars beyond the stars we know,

whirlpools of fire we cannot see

from here, there are ecstasies of light,

there are brothers of this world, it is

all effervescence of the justice

of God. All at once my daughter his

her face against my thigh, crying Stop!

Please let's go inside now. I want to

be cozy and safe inside the house.

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