Astropoetica: Mapping the Stars through Poetry

Winter Observing at the Twenty-foot Telescope

I sit at the open window and call to William
to gaze five degrees west to pinpoint luminous patches
amid the star clusters of Cassiopeia. He calls back
that he may have found another double star.

The ink is thickening, almost frozen in the pot.
I am so wrapped round in wool,
a sheep meeting me on a night path
would expect me to "Baa."

Frost drifts in the window, nudges
the candle flame, stiffens my fingers,
settles in my hair. I recalculate a line
in Flamsteed's star catalog and wiggle my toes,

almost warm in a box with a blanket
topped by the stable cat. He purrs then curls
back to his dream: he darts and a bird
falls but rises again, a whistle in the wind.

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Laura Long previously lived at McDonald Observatory in far west Texas with her husband, an astronomer. In December 2013, after years of research, she published The Eye of Caroline Herschel: A Life in Poems, a chapbook from Finishing Line Press. This collection includes the poems in Astropoetica and also poems nominated for a 2014 Pushcart Prize. Her first novel, Out of Peel Tree, was published in April 2014. She teaches at Lynchburg College.