Meteor Shower
Maryanne Stahl

It’s the middle of the night and I am alone in the garden with the dog. I have wandered from the far end of the lawn to the edge of the lake, searching for the ideal spot, for the biggest piece of sky. I pull a patio chair to a dark corner tangled with honeysuckle; the dog settles at my feet. I lean back and gaze up.

A shooting star slices the sky directly above me, parts it and then, like a wound healed, disappears. I make a wish. Another meteor streaks across the western horizon, another falls from the north. I wish and wish again, and wishes become prayers.

The heavens are a dome whose walls contain life’s energy. I believe I can see where the earth slopes round its curve, just beyond the lake. I know this can’t be true—there’s no such curve in daylight—yet I feel it, and I know it’s real. I sit atop a dark globe beneath a rain of light. Galileo must have felt this way. I imagine him, dressed in robes, yearning for possibility and finding comfort.

The dog presses her nose against my hand. I pet her, pull my sweater close around my chest and, realizing I have been holding my breath, I breathe. I arch my neck, trying to see all of the sky at once, but of course I can’t. My eyes face upward but turn inward now, and I see you against the dark sheet of my mind. I try to reach you across time and continents, to send you sparks.

The dog has wandered off into the shrubbery. Stars continue to fall. An owl hoots. Repeats, repeats. Does she think stars drop from air to water as bones drop from her beak? Is she calling to her mate: pay attention, this won’t last. I see myself without you, blazing and falling, swallowed by darkness as though healed.

And then, the most spectacular meteor lights the sky. From down the lake, an appreciative human voice cries Whoa. Someone else is out there in the darkness watching the meteor shower, crying for joy.

“Am I allowed to say this actually happened to me? Not perhaps exactly as I have written it, but fairly close. It was awesome. I guess I could have entitled this ‘Awe.’ ”

 

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