Salt Point at Mid-Night
for Stephen, 1997

Tonight, there is no moon, no fog,
only stars against the black sky,
only the loud crashing of waves,
only the smell of ocean and salt.

park signs warn overnight campers
"Do not walk without a light!"
You cup a little-used penlight
under the palm of your left hand,

to keep its fine light focused
on small sections of the star map,
as your eyes, unacustomed to the dark,
search the map and then the sky.

Polar Star, Orion, Seven Sisters,
You point from star to star to star,
and pretend you are a wise ancient
naming them for the first time.

--Leila Rae (2001)