Because I have a test after spring break,
my father and I are standing on the side
of the road. He’s drawing lines around
the darkness with his finger.
Aquila, eagle. Cygnus, swan.
He shows me again, one by one
as if I will remember, my head
harder than ironwood,
my astronomy textbook
in the back seat, unopened.
If he noticed I brought it,
my father has said nothing all day.
But he did pull over tonight;
he is asking what I’ve learned.
These are no gods to pray to;
I’ve seen them rot away to nothing
in the glow of Manhattan. They exist
more on pages than the sky.
But what does my father see
in constellations; a way to guide
me even when we are apart?
I shouldn’t have told him
about the exam, its weight
less than these pricks of light;
however, I want to understand.
I grab his hand on the way back
to the car. Together, we circle
Polaris, the North Star,
the first he learned, too.
Geoff Anderson curated Columbus, OH’s first shows for mixed writers, The Other Box, and translation, Lingua Franca. He’s a Callaloo fellow, was nominated for Best of the Net, and his chapbook, Humming Dirges, won Paper Nautilus’s Debut Series (2017). He has work on Tinderbox, burntdistrict, District Lit, and www.andersongeoff.com.