Building the Stars

I’m at a writing conference in Port Townsend, WA this weekend. The Snow Moon is full and so is Venus. There’s even a comet. The high astronomical tide combined with intense wind gusts closed bridges and canceled ferry runs, so crossing the water to get here was a bit of a dance with celestial forces.

***

We laid the foundations of stars before the planets were formed. We assured them of their place in the zenith of the sky.

We had no nadirs, no anchors, no gods. We built because we were. We did not stop to think, did not stop to ask ourselves what we were doing. There was no time, therefore no reason to wonder what would become of our use of no time.

After the foundations were laid, we built a telescope to watch them shift. We built the telescope from the eye of a panther and the heart of a bison. The bison’s heart moved the telescope across the meridian all night long, and all day during the dark star night, and all night during the dark moon day. It was the dark of the galaxy in our hearts.

We spun a sugar of dreams across the cloudy moons of Jupiter that day. In that day we found a lasagna replete with cheese, dripping with spinach. It was satisfying and salty. We licked the salt off our plates and asked for another. We searched among the verdant trees for our lost brother, but did not find him. So we asked for another.

Epiphanies are for lesser writers, so they say. I say I don’t know what an epiphany is but I do know when I know something and a character does not. A character sometimes only thinks they do, because a character is an extension of myself. All of those times I thought I knew something and I didn’t: glaring at my memory, mocking my shame, my private thoughts about my competence. I sat on couches and ate grilled cheese sandwiches when I wanted to be outside playing war with the boys. I accepted grape Kool-Aid and offerings of warm blankets and cartoons and listened to the mothers who said girls should play inside.

But I suppose this was fortunate because otherwise I would not have read the books. I would not have built the stars.

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