Sky Grief

Noctalgia is the term scientists have coined
to describe the pain we feel, and will increasingly
feel, as it gets more and more impossible to see 
the night sky— Its vast, mysterious stretches
pinpricked only by faint galaxy glow and the show 
of constellations our fathers first taught us to find,
assembling like a cast of familiar characters against 
dark velvet curtains. Now, we shade our eyes 
from the blare of city lights, the gaudy jewels
decorating every monument and tribute
to wondrous architectures. Now, we seek places
where it might still be possible to commune
with the dark—open stretch of beach far away
from tourist boardwalks, mountaintops where
the sky at night still looks like an inverted cup
pouring indigo into the throats of valleys.
In some cultures, the newly dead are given
sky burials. Birds of the air break down
the flesh of the body before the bones
are ground to dust. In the hill country 
of my birth, on shelves of limestone 
the dead are wrapped in gauze and seated 
in a row so in their passage between worlds,  
they have a view of both earth and sky.

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