Starfall: Perseids, ‘Aukake

Night draws me from my house.
I gaze at the sky. A star falls.

My mother, who believed God
fills the sky, once said falling stars
are the only gifts the heavens give.

I remember my mother, gone
now, only as dark and wise.

Astronomers say meteors are rocks
falling from the icy void beyond us,
burning through the air we breathe.

It is an occasion for wishes.

Today is my mother’s birthday. Fire
fills the August sky. A star falls.

The line of light glows for a moment,
and my niece says falling stars
are the candles God blows out.

What does God wish for? My mother
wondered, but she taught the truth
of wishes: one who hides wishes

will never see one come true. A star
falls. An arc of light marks the sky.

My mother knew wishes only

remind us that what we want,
we do not have. She was wise.

A good son reveres the night,
the dark thoughts of his mother,

and the little light of candles
gone in a breath of wishes.

All night, I watch rocks rain
through a sky dark with fire.
I remember her. A star falls.

We barely glimpse the light,
and still, we make wishes.

This is a reprint of work originally published in Lāhaina Noon.

Eric Paul Shaffer is author of seven books of poetry, including Even Further West, A Million-Dollar Bill, Lāhaina Noon, Portable Planet, and Living at the Monastery, Working in the Kitchen. 500 of his poems have been published in reviews in the USA, Australia, Canada, England, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Scotland, and Wales. He teaches composition, literature, and creative writing at Honolulu Community College.

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