Monday, August 31, 2020

The Night Watchman

 To all of my nocturnal friends, and the slumbering ones, too.  

The Night Watchman

  I am the night watchman, although what I watch for, I do not know.  My contemporaries have a purpose as clearly cut as a pine board ripped by the table saw - make sure things stay in order, quiet hours lit by the glow of closed circuit television.  

  If only ET would bike himself across the moon that I gaze at in equally quiet hours, then I could point with a trembling finger and say “THAT…!”  But he never does, and if he did, I might not say.  Who would believe a lone astronomer, after all?  

  The best I can figure is it’s the Night itself that I watch, scooping up ancient photons with my telescope, wandering across the deep, swimming with Pisces the fish, peering at the drama of Perseus rescuing Andromeda as the sky wheels that story of antiquity into view.  Saturn dances a hula with her gigantic hoop, and a hurricane three times the size of our planet churns away on Jupiter. My chair is firmly rooted to Earth, the crickets hum in the humid air.  The moon looms in a clear sky, casting searching rays that find scattered diamonds of dewdrops in the thick grass.  A dog yips in the distance, while a street racer somewhere cues up his machine to dominate these terrestrial streets.  It would take him six months to drive to the moon, maybe five if he really built that motor right.  

  A cloud drifts across Luna, my eyes, glued to the telescope, drinking in a desolate surface, watching the early scene of Halloween, vapors of this planet scudding across the echoing plains of another.  Jagged mountains jut up at the edge of a forgotten flat of cooled lava, a crater that was once mighty, half-swallowed up by the event.   Leaning back in my chair, a fragment of a moon-bow - the nighttime rainbow - says hello.  The Katydids sing in the trees, impressing the lady bugs - “Katy did, katy didn’t.”  All of the heat and light of the day - the yes sirs and the problems to solve and the numbers to verify and weights to lift - all seem to drift away like the cloud that’s sailed east ,towards Aquarius.  “Katy did, katy didn’t.”  The Night seems alive, no boundary between me, the trees, the humid air, and the cosmos.  Alberio blazes down, a orange sun waltzing around a blue one, the eye of Cygnus the swan as he flies down the Milky way.  

  The Infinite echoes, reminding me that I’m a speck on a speck spinning ‘round a mote, as I stare up, stupefied in the best sort of way.  

  Yet on this speck on a speck spinning ‘round a mote - there’s a night watchman.  Watching the Night.  Sleep on, let the moon sail high above your pillow.  Katydid, Katy didn’t.  I’ll be keeping an eye on the Night.

  And, I suspect, it’ll be keeping an eye on me.  


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