Sky Lights.

I missed the recent auroras that lit up the sky even down here in Tennessee. My wife and I drove up to a hill where on a couple of occasions we’ve gone to watch the International Space Station zip across the sky at twenty-eight thousand kilometers an hour, just a tiny dot crossing from one horizon to the other, but the combination of light pollution and a high horizon and maybe even just bad timing meant we didn’t see the auroras. And it wasn’t until later that a friend had invited us to come see the auroras at her farm, well away from the city, with a very dark sky, though she’s also surrounded by trees so I don’t know if the visibility was any better there.

And maybe one of these days I’ll have another chance to see the auroras. Maybe I’ll get a chance to travel north—of course I’m happy to travel anywhere. One of the jokes my friends say about me is if someone offered me a chance to fly to Paramaribo right now the plane would be halfway over the Gulf Of Mexico before I’d think to ask, “So, wait, why is it we’re going? And did I pack my toothbrush?” Paramaribo gets picked because it seems like a random place—it could just as easily be Poughkeepsie—but also Suriname doesn’t seem to even make the top ten on most people’s desired travel destinations, even though it sounds like a really cool place with an amazing history, but that’s another story.

I missed the auroras this time but they will also come again. Even if I didn’t see them they reminded me that the Earth keeps spinning around the Sun, that our little planet isn’t a closed sphere but it’s part of, and affected by, the universe we occupy. We live small, brief lives on a world that’s constantly in motion, constantly changing. I couldn’t see the auroras but up in the sky there was a slender crescent moon, like a chalice without a handle cupping a few stars, and I was reminded of the beginning of the Wallace Stevens poem The Auroras Of Autumn:

This is where the serpent lives, the bodiless.
His head is air. Beneath his tip at night
Eyes open and fix on us in every sky.

Or is this another wriggling out of the egg,
Another image at the end of the cave,
Another bodiless for the body’s slough?

This is where the serpent lives. This is his nest,
These fields, these hills, these tinted distances,
And the pines above and along and beside the sea.

This is form gulping after formlessness,
Skin flashing to wished-for disappearances
And the serpent body flashing without the skin.

This is the height emerging and its base
These lights may finally attain a pole
In the midmost midnight and find the serpent there,

In another nest, the master of the maze
Of body and air and forms and images,
Relentlessly in possession of happiness.  

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3 Comments

  1. ANN J KOPLOW

    I missed the auroras too, Chris, and maybe someday you’ll travel north to Boston? Thanks for always lighting up my day.
    ANN J KOPLOW recently posted…Day 4152: ExpectationsMy Profile

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    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      One of these days I definitely plan to travel to Boston. There’s so much there I’d like to see–especially you!

      Reply
  2. mydangblog

    We were so lucky here–not only did we get a beautiful view of the eclipse but also the aurora borealis. Both days started off cloudy but then cleared just in time! I’ll post some pictures next week.
    mydangblog recently posted…Taking The FallMy Profile

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