Monday, January 12, 2009

City of Starlight

Out in nowheresville, on my family’s farm in Alabama, we walked out together to admire the night sky. Living in a large metropolitan area as we do, it’s easy to forget about the stars. But that night, huddled together in the grass, our breath frosting in the freezing air, I tipped my head back and gasped. Stretching out overhead was an overwhelming number of stars, improbably bright against the deep, inky black of infinite space. They exploded overhead in glittering profusion, winking and shining like living sparks of spirit-fire in the cold winter night. I cannot remember the last time I saw so many stars, or when they shone so brightly. I only wished the temperature outside was more condusive to lingering- as it was, we had just a few minutes to wonder before I hustled back inside to huddle by the gas heater.

Riding home the following evening, I scanned the night sky ruefully for some indication that the magic still shone somewhere overhead. Only the brightest stars remained- a handful here and there, veiled to a fraction of their former brilliance. Lights that pierced like beacons were now hard to pick out in the pinkish grey sheen over the endless highway. We drew nearer and nearer to Atlanta as I typed, watching the stars fade away. Suddenly ahead the city skyline popped into view like a sunrise on the horizon. For a moment I was startled by it’s beauty, towers twinkling like diamonds, thousands upon thousands of gleaming lights in this urban metropolis. Here of course was the main reason the stars had disappeared: the light pollution was simply too intense, too widespread for the starts to compete. And all at once I was struck with a vision of stars, countless stars, being pulled inexorably from the heavens down to earth, where they coalesced into the sparkling spires then dazzling my eyes.

What human conceit, to have stolen the stars.

3 comments:

Kyddryn said...

Not stolen, sugar, just hidden. Fools, we, who think we can do without them...

Shade and Sweetwater,
K

Bird said...

We got greedy the very first time we took fire and imagined we'd tamed it. I often grieve for the stars I cannot see, and here on the edge of the marshes we see more than many Londoners do. City lights are beautiful and I'd never deny it, but they can't take the place of stars. We all need reminding of it; thank you.

Kit said...

True. . .