BARRY PETERS

★ ★ ★ ★

POETRY

Constellations

They’re another language, indecipherable
randomly scattered gold dots on black paper.
They should be numbered so I can connect them,

make logical sense between this and that, hither and yon,
plus they’re always moving, one night here, another there
no matter how constant the north is supposed to be.

One three o’clock morning I’m wandering,
wandering and wondering about deep things, and lo!
I definitively identify Venus because it’s quite bright

and cheek-to-cheek with the moon, very cute,
then another midnight I’m wandering and wondering
and ho! I discern a dipper (big or little, not sure, no context),

suddenly it dawns on me why they’re called dippers:
in the suburbs we call them pans, as in big pans or little pans.
I’m finally getting the hang of this astronomical language

but maybe that should worry me: why now,
this late in the game, am I able to visualize Orion,
though to me he looks like an archer or even a violinist,

both with their bows, and just then a lush wind
blows through the trees, music like a pillow of strings,
and a dog barks in the distance. A beckoning

or possibly an augury. I’m still working on the translation.

Barry Peters and his wife, the writer Maureen Sherbondy, live in Durham, North Carolina. He teaches in Raleigh. Publications (some forthcoming) include The American Journal of Poetry, Baltimore Review, Barren, Best New Poets 2018, The National Poetry Review, New Ohio Review, Parhelion, Poetry East, Rattle, The Southampton Review, and South Florida Poetry Journal.

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