Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dying in the Sky

"Star Gaze Poem" by Sandford Lyne

In whatever galaxy,
I believe there must be creatures like ourselves,
builders of canoes,
far-scattered eyes moving
against the twinkling darkness of the heavens,
in equivalents of dust,
singers of small laments:
the ones we also know,
so well.

for one such as me
this earth is enough of the possibility of grace.

I step out on my small porch, gaze:

these tiny lights, these beacons, bobbing
so far away in the night
cannot hear their bells
the shallows of the universe.


I remember one moment when I could see all the stars. Standing on the deck of the cruise ship my Freshman year of high school, on a Band trip that was utterly boring (I actually followed the rules), but I did go to the observation deck at night time and look out at the stars, braving a stiff wind that nearly blew my jacket off. There were so many stars... I couldn't even see the constellations I was so used to seeing at home. Where was Orion, or the twinkling of the Pleiades in Taurus, or the familiar Big Dipper of Ursa Major, pointing to Polaris? But there were stars to be seen there, for the sky was black, and, if you could get around the couples snuggling with each other, it was truly an amazing sight.

Unfortunately, Orion and the Big Dipper are about all you can see now from my front yard. The horizon is filled with lights from Atlanta and surrounding towns. I've always wanted to stop sometime in the fields around 212, in the middle of Putnam County, and view the stars from the country. I bet you could even see the Northern Crown, with Gemma in the middle, named for a daughter of Minos. I could in Oklahoma City just looking from my front yard. My grandmother tells me about how she would take me to see the "moonstars" before I went to bed when I was 2, when there were stars to see.

But there aren't any, now, just Orion in the Winter, dying in the corner of the sky (Paul Simon), and the Big Dipper if you look straight up. The lights fade everything else. And what about the stories? Who could tell the story of Cassiopeia, or of Scorpio? Our stars are aligned not with our futures, but with the legends of our past, and yet we forget about them just as we take for granted the stars in the sky. Now the only stars we see are those that are slowing coming toward us on our computer screensavers. On that note, I highly appreciate computer game designers, like Nintendo, who place familiar constellations in the skies about the worlds they create. If you look above Lake Hylia in Twilight Princess,, you'll see Orion. It is a tie from the mythology of our own world to the mythos of Hyrule.

I doubt most of us will ever be able to see all the constellations, as the lights flickering here on Earth outshine those in the Heavens. I wonder if future generations will even care. Perhaps when we escape our own skies and venture outwards, we will see what our own light is hiding from us.

The poem at the top is by the late Sandford Lyne, who passed away in 2007. A distinguished poet, his main goal was to teach children the art of poetry, which has faded much as the stars have. He ran successful poetry workshops sponsored by the Kennedy Center for the Arts, and published two volumes of poetry containing marvelous short bursts of genius by children in the public schools. There shines so much potential in these poems, and they are works to be treasured and shared with other students. The two compilations are Soft Hay Will Catch You, ISBN: 0689834608, and Ten Second Rainshowers ISBN: 0689801130. I hope that somewhere on the Internet there are outlines of how those workshops were held, as the results, at least those presented in the books, are remarkable. Lyne also wrote many poems himself, some are collected at the Loch Raven Review site. Take a look at these poems as well. I so miss going to the college library and seeing the new poetry that came out each year in the journals. I regret not publishing or writing more myself... but, alas, Prozac and Depression stopped me from doing it. Perhaps I will take it up again, and fling more stars into the sky to gaze upon.