In the late dark fading slowly into velvet at the forehead of dawn, you pulled me from sleep to tiptoe the steep wooden stairs and slip out the back door. Those nights, my hand small, yours warm, you taught me to trace the gentle dip of Ursa Major, Orionís strong belt, and the constellation of home, Cassiopeia. Midnight belonged to you, and in love for the first time, young, I claimed it too. Hours wrestled with my world under the stars. I came back always to you. Sitting in the orange kitchen, How do you know if you love someone? You peeled tangerines, fed me slice by slice, and told me of your first love who introduced you to Dvorak. You were, in early autumn, a great red sweatshirt to cover us both. You gave me Rome, Paris, Venice, Peoria. I pulled you from your maps into the mountains. Letís just get lost. I have learned my life through your love. I want to tell you. In the next room, lit blue by the empty tv screen, my sister is crying. I can hear her: Please come home. Weíre frightened. I turn away, swallow against heartbreak three hundred miles to school. I donít know whatís wrong with him. Heís not who he was. Weíve lost our father. It is never the same after that. I trace the constellation of home for myself, alone on a windy hill. Your hand, no longer warm, no longer knowing, takes mine in memory.
16 October 2000