Christian Collins CC
The Dying of the Light
Last night I heard my children creep out of bed conspiring to sneak out and see the Northern Lights. And I got up, even though I had just gotten to bed, even though I knew it was too cloudy and even in the middle of Michigan the light pollution would be too bad, and offered to drive them around, to some field, somewhere darker, to see them.
And we drove and I told them about the first time I’d seen electrically charged particles falling from space, in North Dakota on the way to see my dying grandmother. I didn’t tell them that she was already dead while we watched the light dance, but we didn’t know it. We drove north and I tried to explain what they looked like, Aurora Borealis, and every time we hit a now barren cornfield there’d be a farmhouse with too many Christmas lights. Too close to Lansing. Too far from the Lakes to see.
We did stop at one point and turn off all the lights in the car and sat in darkness and silence, our eyes adjusting, and Benny wanted to get out and walk in the cornfield and I didn’t think it was a good idea for a whole host of reasons and then the kids started bickering because it was cold and 1 am on a school night and the magic was gone.
Today you died and I didn’t get a chance to tell you this story and laugh about it. Tonight I went outside in the dark desperate to see anything but there was no magic, no solar flare, not even stars. The sky was empty of comfort or signs, and the earth was bathed in an artificial glow of red and green.
Helen R Broom, (nee Helen R Peterson), has been published in over 100 online and print journals, both nationally and internationally. She was the poetry editor of the small press print journal Chopper and the online journal The Waterhouse Review. Her first full length book of poetry, Melons and Memory, was published in 2012 by Little Red Tree Press. She is also the host and co-producer of the Poetry in the Bar Podcast and Open Mic series.
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