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I can hear the future

On clear nights my mother gathered us in the backyard
as she unwrapped the sky
presents to wide-eyed children who should have been in bed

among the gifts were the moon,
Venus, Mars, Jupiter,
the Perseids on warm August nights
the Lyrids in the spring
we wore winter coats over our pajamas
for the Geminids in December

because I thought I already knew everything
I once told her that we were only looking into the past
something a teacher had told me

something about the time it takes for light to travel to our backyard
but Mom smiled
ran her fingers through my hair
and whispered that seeing the past was easy
but when searching the night skies with her children
she was able to hear the future

in the years that followed
I have often been heard saying to my own family
as we watched the night skies together

how Grandma so loved the moon
Venus, Mars, Jupiter
the Perseids on warm August nights
the Lyrids in the spring
and with an old winter coat covering her pajamas
the Geminids

and in those moments I came to understand
that my mother, in fact
had heard the future

Alan Harris is a 61-year-old hospice volunteer and graduate student who helps hospice patients write memoirs, letters, and poetry. Harris is the 2011 recipient of the Stephen H. Tudor Scholarship in Creative Writing, the 2014 John Clare Poetry Prize, and the 2015 Tompkins Poetry Award from Wayne State University. In addition he is the father of seven, grandfather of eight, as well as a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee. His forthcoming poetry chapbook, Hospice Bed Conversations (Finishing Line Press) will be out next month. Finishing Line Press will also publish his full-length book of poetry, Fall Ball and other late-inning storylines, in December 2017.