In a year of many, many walks, the sky featured prominently. Open sky provided a welcome balance to the confines of walls during months of sheltering in place. During the day, the sky is an abstract expressionist canvas, painting and repainting itself in blues and grays and whites, and often at the ends of days in brilliant golds and pastels, with great broad strokes in shifting shapes.

But it’s the night sky that offers true companionship. In the heavy glow of urban illumination, our sky is a desert for stars, so anything that shines brightly is almost certainly a planet. All through this past year, Saturn chased Jupiter across the southern sky, like a younger, smaller sibling pursuing an idolized older brother but never quite catching up — until December, when it sat smugly atop in triumphant convergence, jewel upon jewel, for a few precious nights in the afterglow of sunset.

Halfway through the year, Mars, imperial in its march directly overhead, joined the procession. 

The moon, meanwhile, took turns dallying with each, and served as the best companion for walks home, alone in the dark — though frequently facing away, more interested in chasing the sun, until once a month it directs its round-faced gaze upon us.

Which inspired the following last week:

On the far side of day
Walking home
After a long talk with a friend
Accompanied only by the moon,
Present and presenting
After several nights in hiding,
Waiting to bestow
Its far-flung glow.

Not the cold dead moon,
A slave to its orbit,
But the living moon,
The moon that exists
In secret rendezvous.

Not the same moon
That kept my mother company
During her last years on Earth
Through her bedroom window
Late at night or just before dawn,
The moon she called “my buddy,”
Which she also called my father
Whom she believed was waiting for her
Somewhere beyond the moon.

This moon is close to that.
It too mirrors the sun
And dances in and out of view
With thin clouds streaming past like steam
From some percolating mystery,
A moon that, 
Has absorbed the departed 
Loves of my life
Held there, aglow and warm
Even now.

This is the moon that keeps watch
And keeps company
On my short walk through the village, 
Past the lit windows of the living
Down the long sidewalk to the place I sleep
Not quite alone
Thanks to this companion sailing overhead,
Just 3 days’ journey away
And so close to the eye
That I never feel abandoned.

Wordlessly walking 
Through the snow 
On the far side of day,
This moon is my rear-view mirror,
Wiped clean by tissue-thin clouds,
So close
Yet far enough removed to see its masters,
Keeping its obedient vigil on Earth and Sun
And keeping me company
Through this village
Of so many seasons
That holds so much I love
And so many, 
All living, 
Some only in memory.

So much company 
Contained somehow
In this moon of many dear faces
In this village of many dear seasons
In these eyes of many dear rememberings
In this heart
Of many dear loves.

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