This far from Earth, the stars don't line up
in what they call "familiar patterns". There's weather
enough to sit and watch the clouds turn over
our heads, revealing night.
our decision to sneak out to find our own
sky, bored by classes on constellations
we'll never see.
In the observatory,
some snide remarks that Earth-based constellations
are just as backwards as the people living
I think about my mother
who chose to stay at home, so many years ago,
rather than risk a long sleep in the dark of space.
She was a potter. The nested bowls she threw
for me clink softly in my hands when I rock back-
and-forth, late at night, if I can't sleep.
The ancient Greeks had built their sky one story
and one stellar cluster at a time.
Outside the dome wind whips the clouds apart
and suddenly the stars line up
just like my mother's hands over her wheel.
Copyright © 2003 Mary Alexandra Agner
Mary Alexandra Agner holds a Masters in Earth and Planetary Science from MIT and an MFA from Emerson College. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Salt, Rosebud, and Astropoetica, as well as other magazines. Her previous publications in Strange Horizons can be found in our Archive. Mary has spent most of her life observing the universe and writing about it.