‘Milky Way’

Milky Way


Wind gusts. Lamps flicker.

If there’s a power cut, we’ll sit and talk about the storm,

sure the villa will hold up, then rise in the light of our Sun.

The other stars can’t help us, their faint points beautiful but useless

except for how they hold the whole together.

My father would have liked this island; he was thin and always cold.

He loved sunshine, especially as an older man

when he was even skinnier and back working in “the barn,”

as he called the wool scouring mill in New England.

He’d been happy in California for a few big-payday seasons in the 1960s,

touring sheep spreads up and down the Great Central Valley.

My body runs hot. Friends laughed about my “hockey blood”

when I swore a sweatshirt was enough on the black-ice pond.

On one of his last days, dying of cancer, Dad reached out from his hospital bed

and wrapped his big bony hands around my forearm as if it was a heater.

“In the disk of our galaxy, stars form and die in a calm fashion,

like burning embers in a campfire,” says an expert, “but in a starburst galaxy,

star birth and death are like explosions in a fireworks factory.”

One thousand starlets light the Orion Nebula,

some of which lack mighty cauldrons that yield a Sun or more.

Those are the brown dwarfs.

And in that particle mix one matchless star pumps hydrogen

to fuel a thousand teeming solar systems.


Paul Marion (c) 2002

St. Lucia