The Trouble in the Way We Constellate — By Charles Peek

After Twyla Hansen

Some eyes see them better than others, even with the help of a sky-searcher app downloaded to your phone, even lying out in the backyard at night by your dad as he points out one and another by name. I confess I’m a sky-slacker. An eclipse is exciting, an equinox mildly so. The full moon, the harvest moon. Like everyone I guess, a falling star. Too much light, as always, makes it hard to see. My problem with constellations is we just get the nouns and never the verbs, a strange pidgin above the pigeons’ realm, like all stories haltingly told us in another tongue from another side of the universe, a place where split infinitives are famous but absent all action words. If I look, I see vain beauty easily enough but not the pain it inflicts on those less likely to appear in fashion’s mirror, not even the occasional awareness of its own futility. Perhaps, a Libra, I’m too balanced. Once I heard someone more audacious call my dad an “old goat,” and he didn’t even know about Capricorn, could not have known how many times we’d butted heads. No one ever sees the children being bitten by the scorpion, nor feels the bite that’s sharper than a serpent’s tooth. The swan was never an ugly duckling, nor a ride in the park with bench seats. Were there any heads poached just to be lionized in the den? The bull is never led from town for sacrifice, the goat is never scaped. Our heavenly hunter aims but never shoots, no creatures great or small, canine or ursine, ever feels the piercing arrow. Until he becomes a character in a book, Draco fails to do more than look draconian. The horse is not for riding, knows no trot or gallop, doesn’t really ever fly. And where are the pigs? A Semitic sky, where all will happen only when pigs fly, flight being what, in such fixed positions, pigs never manage. No wonder it’s more comforting to look up. Instead.

~ Charles Peek

Charles Peek blogs, writes, and protests from Kearney, Nebraska. His Breezes on the Way to Being Winds won the 2016 Nebraska Award for Poetry. Together with his wife, Nancy, he spends a good deal of time trying to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline form ruining Nebraska’s land, water, and culture.

Guest Editor Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Ph.D., the 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate is the author of two dozen books, including, most recently, Miriam’s Well, a novel; Everyday Magic: A Field Guide to the Mundane and Miraculous, and Following the Curve, a collection of embodied poetry. . Founder of Transformative Language Arts at Goddard College where she teaches, Mirriam-Goldberg also leads writing workshops widely, particularly for people living with serious illness and their caregivers. With singer Kelley Hunt, she co-leads writing and singing retreats. 


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