Thursday, February 01, 2007

Light pollution

In winter when there are nothing but clouds hovering over the city, the sky is full of raspberry-tinted light and it glows. I can't see the stars but I can't see them during the day either when the black of space presses closer. The stars and planets, comets and moons are all still there just beyond the light but until the fiery sun sinks below the mountains and the world turns away toward the soft silver glow reflected on the moon's face, I cannot see them. I watch for Venus at dusk before she slips below the sharp mountain peaks and I watch her glide across the sky in the east just before molten brass wells up on the horizon and eclipses her glinting beauty. Venus always faces toward Earth in a circle dance like lovers across a room separated by time and circumstance.

Red-faced warrior Mars dips up and down in the sky, sometimes moving closer, but only in the absence of the warming rays of the sun can I see him and trace his scarred face. The rings of Saturn the big red storm that whirls and boils on Jupiter's surface, the watery, ethereal Neptune and even the quixotic trudge of Uranus stalk and spin, endlessly caught in the sun's magnetic pull, invisible as long as we bask in the sun's glow.

In the city the stars don't seem quite so close. I don't feel like I can reach up and touch them because of street and business and residential lights pushing back the darkness while people huddle close to light and warmth oblivious to the turn and pull of the teeming skies. They choose to view the recorded skies in the background of television shows on nights when the clouds don't reflect the waxing silver light of the sun reflected in the moon's round face on a glowing raspberry-colored night.

On nights like this, I miss the twinkling galactic travelers and the spill of milky stars swirling out of the reach of the life- and light-giving sun.

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