Arrows of light flee from Perseus, each one
scorching the sky with a pencil line and a whiff
of burning—or am I imagining the sulfurous flare
that reaches my nostrils for a second
as if the devil himself had emerged from below
to scrape the unfamiliar heights with his curled fingernail.
Sometimes racing rays cross each other so fast
you’d think they would leave their smoke drifting
among bewildered constellations, but they just go on
as usual, shimmering among the riot,
rotating along their nightly track with a sweet hint
of tea roses, oblivious to the celestial uproar.
Far away below, they can hear faint gasps erupting
from the miniscule life forms that swarm on the face
of the little blue planet, the scent of their great
astonishment, pungent as a Vindalho curry.
Judith Barrington recently won the Gregory O’Donoghue Poetry Prize and gave a reading in Cork (Ireland). She has published three poetry collections, most recently Horses and the Human Soul and two chapbooks: Postcard from the Bottom of the Sea and Lost Lands (winner of the Robin Becker Chapbook Award). Her memoir, Lifesaving, won the Lambda Book Award and was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award. She has taught for the University of Alaska’s MFA Program and at workshops across the USA, Britain and Spain.