Nighttime, after the locusts hushed, and the only summer sounds were crickets singing love songs, the rustling of scavengers scratching through scorched leaves...we would lay back in the pokey grass and lose ourselves in the blackened night sky. Why was it such a thrill to find the Big and Little Dippers? I remember the night my parents pointed them out to me, a curiosity rite of passage, the ability to see and know and discern, to follow your father's forefinger as he traced the image in the sky.
Last night, outside of my apartment, my heart leapt a little at seeing the Big Dipper, like an old friend, scooping away infinity and time and letting a middle-aged woman stare a little girl in the eyes. We met together under the stars. For a moment, I was in my childhood backyard, seeing the Dipper above the roof of our house, where it always seemed to stay.
I hadn't looked for the Dipper in years, but there it was last night, twinkling through the darkness of space as if with a wink and a smile. Such a crazy, almost cartoonish (non)constellation, and, yet, utterly unreachable, light years away and apart, a friendly piece of eternity.
The Plough, The Butcher's Cleaver, The Big Bear, The Drinking Gourd to freedom...how many of us throughout history have converged under these very stars?
If I find the Dipper again in ten years, will I find myself again last night? This point of reference, this moment where I will see myself staring at myself staring at the Dipper. Time is a stranger to the stars. They are the gravestones, touch stones of all who dare to stare into the spaces between.