“Falling meteors generate very low-frequency radio signals that travel at the speed of light to the ground, where they cause pine needles, blades of grass, and other small objects to tremble slightly and whisper to any stranger within earshot. Mundane objects become celestial heralds… A meteor plummets, and the lawn chair or the pine tree speaks.”
—Alan Burdick, “Psst! Sounds Like a Meteor,” Natural History 111:6
Getting up to take my four-in-the-morning leak
off the side of the porch,
the new moon’s long gone down
& it’s quiet:
no trains wailing through the gap,
no trucks jake-braking on the off-ramp two miles away
& it’s cold enough that even the crickets are still.
Naked save for my glasses, head thrown back
I gape at a sky so clear
even the darkest parts seem to flame
with a faint rash of what might be
still more stars.
I let the focus of my gaze slide
a little to the side of where I want to look—
mindful of the blind hearth in the heart of the eye—
only to have a meteor slice through
the very space I’d marked,
the brief arc of its scar more vivid than Aldebaran.
And it makes—I swear—a little cry:
a barely audible moan that trails off into shhhh.
The sound a hot iron fry pan makes
when you drop it into the water.
Groin against the railing
I keep shaking out the last sleepy drops.
But already my cocoon of residual warmth
is prickled through with gooseflesh
& I crawl back into bed, unwilling
to pull on jeans & t-shirt
& test the prerogatives of day.
The fridge hums through the kitchen wall.
I can hear my own pulse against the pillow.
I strain my ears
until I’ve filled the house with listening
& the plank walls pop & creak,
tightening with the cold like a chitinous skin,
a stratosphere dwindling to eggshell thinness.