On a still night
in the darkness of a clean sky
the breeze weaves a quiet tale.
Looking on in lonely splendor
the stars smile and nod their heads
as it pleases them
looking for a cloud as a pillow
and drifting into sleep.
It is a grand old song sung countless times
through many years of life.
The story is written across an inky-black sky,
punctuated with little diamond chips of light.
I was sixteen or seventeen when I wrote this poem, on a summer night with my bedroom windows open–we had no air conditioning so they had to be open–my bed placed right next to three south-facing windows. I would lie there and look at the sky and listen to two whippoorwills, one in the juniper trees a hundred yards to the east and another in one of the pecans near the house, calling to each other and answering, singing their ancient songs.
A lovely longing and awe rose within me and I felt just on the brink of understanding the primordial story of the earth. I loved the pastures and fields around that house, as rich and intriguing and full of inscrutable life in the daytime as at night, and though I knew firsthand the physical labor and financial hardships that went with the rural agricultural life of my family, I felt an unalterable connection to the landscape.
The melody I first heard there remains the theme song of the smallest, most important moments of my life, as I seek ordinary moments of grace. When I’m quiet, I can still believe that the story of the ancient earth lies near for the reading.
Complete the following: On a still night . . .
Have you ever felt you were just on the verge of knowing? Describe that moment.