With a broken-down hot tub, last winter’s night sky had to shine without us. We think of the hot tub as a vacation, spread out through the year. Even on the coldest nights (0º F, -18º C), we don stocking caps and soak for thirty minutes, groaning out the stresses of the workday, our heads laid back, eyes closed, then opened to behold the velvet sky-field with its distant lighted windows. So it was sublime when Don made a trade deal with our neighbor Bill across the road: Don’s 1974 International Harvester lawn tractor and trailer (we still have a John Deere for mowing) for a five-year-old hot tub and a face cord of cherry firewood. The hot tub needs a new pump, and then with a little Sawzall action to cut up our kaput twenty-five-year-old hot tub and get it off the deck, we’ll be back under the starry dome where the International Space Station blinks at us now and then, just after the gasp of a falling star.
Under an autumn night sky
Tree toads and crickets
have cupboarded up their cheer
for another year
while the wood stove commences
his chirp-and-clicky blaze.
Leaves of poplars
have waved farewell, tumbling
off like pilgrims down the windy road
to their southland. Above us
bony maple and locust branches
point toward the baptismal
pool of midnight.
The milk-blue moon
rolls over the barn
like a sacred rock of Sisyphus,
lifting to her white breast
the burdens of our day.
The Seven Sisters blink
twittery poems for the man
across the hot tub. Orion unhooks
a notch in his belt, beguiling me
with his bright torch. Then suddenly
the clattering season of O Henry,
Dickens and Thomas
hoofs up the fern-lined stony hill
in her shiny black Goodwill shoes
and we are children again, sitting
in this farm nave of holy velvet,
saintly candles lit on all sides
while we congregants listen quietly
for praise from the overturned font
above the meadow, and hum along.
Poetry should be heard.
Photo of Pleides: NASA