Bear Lake by George Longenecker

Bear Lake

Just three lights shine on the opposite shore.
At ten the waxing moon is only a dim sliver,
sky still too bright to see stars.

White pelicans fly low over water,
wings beating slowly,
so close I hear their feathers against air;
as I fall asleep they’re still flying.

After midnight the Milky Way brightens
the sky from Idaho south to Utah,
a plane blinks red and a single
satellite moves east to west.
All the rest is stars.

In desert sky shine stars light-years old,
eons from now somebody
may be watching our star,
by then we’ll probably be gone
(maybe we’ll have blown ourselves away)
it’s hardly important to the Milky Way

whether our star shines or not—
twilight comes by four,
across the lake a porch light comes on,
already the Milky Way is floating into dawn,
already one white pelican flies low over Bear Lake,
all the rest is stars.

by George Longenecker, first published in Sixfold.

Editor’s Note: Crisp imagery opens and closes this poem with silence and darkness.


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