Dust Sparkles in the Night

by Julie Corbett
The Write Idea
Highly Commended, May 2010
Judged by Fiona Sampson

We are walking before the witching hour and can feel
lights in houses warning us against the dark. But slowly
the buildings nod off, street lights and car headlights
become our only guardians. Then our eyes accommodate
to Erebos’s darkness and we start to search for constellations.
It is mid August and we are heading out of town towards the estuary.
Our intention to lay down and look upwards to the northeast and
capture in our memories shooting stars of the Perseid Meteor Shower.

The city at our back gives out growls of late night traffic and
sometimes the howl of a siren. We walk along the main road
instead of the pedestrian pathway for what we know to be false
security. Taxi cabs and lorries pass by us, not one taking any
interest in our journey. In the moonlight, cranes and gantries on the
docks and ferry port form silent battlements along the edges
of the water. We reach the jetty and point out the land marks
illuminated or looming along the bank or across the River Humber.

I am surprised that the smell of the open sea is so salty-strong and
the movement of the swell has that shape of waves falling
onto a beach. We unpack our mats and covers and lay down. Clouds
and the light from the moon obscure parts of the sky. It is a
magnificent display and for the first half hour we compete to spot the
meteorites, straining our necks until we learn to stay focused on just
one sector. Our talk is earnest and light with those words of love
that wordsmiths and artists do ache well to overhear.

A strong serious poem, with a sophisticated approach and diction (vocabulary!), only faintly betrayed by its arrival point. --Fiona Sampson