That night on the lake in new moon darkness, you pointed out
the Milky Way. I’d never seen its sprawl with you before
out at that forest lake with our daughter already asleep in the tent.
Then we became translators for coyotes. Their call and response
surrounded us and sounded like understanding. You told me
the diameter of this galaxy is 100,000 light years, but who is
across the Milky Way from us, celebrating their trappings? One day
we won’t have Earth to hold us up to the orange light of our burning
forests, to point out the needle-shaped ash as it gathers on our summer
clothes like snow. We will no longer whisper about the cut of a river
because it will wash over us and turn our faces into unmarked
graves. Notice the shadows are already moving away from us, like time,
getting as small as Earth from the moon. Maybe we are the oldest
stars whose terror is not in the slow fade but in the looking inside.
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