The Wide Stars Above Our Sky
Class was called The Wide Stars Above Our Sky.
Charles and I enrolled while Shira planned
her summer abroad helping those in need.
Across the kitchen table she unfurled
a map, flattening it down with her palm,
then pointed to a small country near Russia.
Shira said, “Let’s check out that hot Peruvian-
Asian restaurant downtown.” I declined,
deciding to eat dinner with my parents instead.
Chai, the puppy, was eight weeks old. I plowed
through snow to purchase a knee joint at Kriser’s
so she would stop chewing the chairs and table.
Shira didn’t think she’d meet the right man
in the tiny country adjoining Russia.
My graduate-school poetry professor
offered the workshop every twenty minutes.
Black ice slicked down back alleys, intersections.
Monuments of snow barricaded sidewalks.
Charles transformed into my college boyfriend.
As we climbed into the blue Subaru
I forgot to explain that I already
was married. We drove miles until we reached
the summer college. My professor turned
into a high-school friend, now TV host, who ambled
around the corner of the red brick building,
counting the cumulus clouds overhead.
He wore only a blue terry-cloth bathrobe.
I asked, “Will The Wide Stars Above Our Sky
begin on time?” The clock said 4 pm.
That was when Shira’s plane took flight.
(Originally appeared in The New Yorker and is forthcoming in The Nightlife – Red Hen Press, 2017)
Elise Paschen is the author of The Nightlife, Bestiary, Infidelities (winner of the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize), and Houses: Coasts. Her poems have been published in numerous anthologies and magazines, including The New Yorker and Poetry Magazine. Co-editor of Poetry Speaks and Poetry in Motion, she teaches in the MFA Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Photo ©Joanne Warfield