Exact Directions of Light

The sky is made of accidents, the moon
just one of them. Ask the storied firmament
what the North Star means and you begin
to see the problem. We were young enough

to credit our chances of mapping the night
with meaning, but owned too the unlikely
nature of chance and how it made of circumstance
the necessary shapes to shut the darkness up.

She said, “Stars shine in each direction equally
or do not shine at all.” With nothing to hand
I scratched this in low tide mud, then waited
by the fire until the moon shifted it away.

We climbed back uphill in darkness and drove
north on Highway 1. I don’t recall her name,
only the sweep of light just far enough ahead
to convince us of direction. Memory is night

redacted by the gravity of time—the contours
of her face glimpsed by dash light, downshifting
into the sharpest corners while the incessant
surf worried stones smooth far below.

From the collection Winter Garden