Astrophotographer

by Brenda Levy Tate
PenShells
Third Place, September 2018
Judged by Kathleen Hellen


Dusk deepens, and brings stars. I wait for them; pray to see them.
They cancel my need for sleep. When they appear, rivets in a curve, I wander 
under their patterns, count myself blessed. Avoid the crammed shelves
 
above my bed where photos glare, those downlooking ones who knew me
before I ever met a midnight sky. Beneath my heels, the dark lawn springs 
eternal, like resurrection. No matter how often I cut it down, grass returns 

with a clover scarf gently laid, and bees with emerald sparkles on their heads. 
I think of how they borrow themselves from space. Their starfield, I can map 
and travel by day. Their wings, I greet fearless. But they are torpid now – 

the only part of remembered noon that sings above the noise of ordinary light. 
The galaxies excuse me. My camera grants absolution. Its lens gleams,
a fisheye in murk where I swim forever, suspended between sea and heaven. 

Out here, no dreams ripple the surface. I consider nothing of myself, neither sin 
nor sorrow. I hum to the quiet dead as I map their universe. A husband carousing 
with Jupiter. A lover stung by Scorpio. A brother raising his arrow to my throat. 

No power in consciousness. Only with slumber do they punish me. I am perfect 
this night, barely human. The void which bore me from ash, the roiling bubble 
of failed promises, spans every hour until I go. This is the universe I have inherited. 

Mars hovers above the lake; earth swings toward morning. No more frames 
are possible, but enough have been captured: holy fire – burning in the prison 
of my glass. I scuff a trail through wet blades, drip on the kitchen floor. 

Collapse tripod, remove memory card, connect reader. In my bedroom, 
faces wait, but they are patient. I stir a creamy nebula – instant coffee 
to hold off sleep just a little longer.   


Rendered in tercets, this narrative relies on binaries (earth/sky-day/night-waking/sleeping) to provide background for its restless movement through a night of stars, its liquid phrasings (“rivets in a curve”). The camera serves as trope for framing what we see: here, the “quiet dead” (husband, lover, brother). It grants “absolution” in a subtext that begs “to hold off sleep just a little longer.” --Kathleen Hellen

  • October 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      The Emails Go Unanswered
      by Lois P. Jones
      PenShells

      Second Place

      Hidden Room
      by F.H. Lee
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      Third Place

      The Penitent
      by Ken Ashworth
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      Honorable Mention

      You Can Call Me a Tough Cookie, But It Really Doesn’t Matter
      by Midnight Moon
      Wild Poetry Forum

  • September 2018 Winners

    • First Place

      Let Me End the Way the Dinosaurs Began
      by Guy Kettelhack
      Wild Poetry Forum

      Second Place

      Monotony
      by John Riley
      The Waters

      Third Place

      Astrophotographer
      by Brenda Levy Tate
      PenShells