Astronomy 101
by LeeAnn Pickrell

    The ancient astronomers believed
    stars hung from heaven by silver threads.

    I.
    In the field
    we studied stars.
    I never saw
    what I was supposed to,
    like looking in the
    microscope in biology lab
    seeing only liquid's edge.
    Through the telescope,
    chilled sweat
    dripping from my forehead,
    I saw not even an August night.
    Until I stepped away and fainted,
    a star exploding,
    a supernova.

    II.
    Three weeks later,
    I lay on a table
    covered by
    a pink paper sheet,
    my feet bound by metal stirrups.
    I saw only white
    splattered gold,
    a ceiling I wished would suck
    me away.

    III.
    In the white shed with its
    ceiling cranked back,
    I still wore a napkin to soak
    the blood of a dead star.
    But through the telescope that one night
    I saw what I was supposed to--
    the stardust sucked out of me,
    a new star now
    swaying from its silver thread.






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