The townspeople, like others thousands of years

before them, gathered outside in the dark to wait

for Halley’s Comet to cross the stars


As a small boy I learned not to believe in myths

or magic, fairy tales or legends


I came to know a comet was a ball of dust

and ice illuminated as it circled the sun

and nothing more


When I learned I had one chance in my lifetime

to witness Halley’s arc I stood for hours

with the townspeople until the comet lit above

one mountain, edged with a flare over us and

disappeared behind the next peak


For that short interval I surrendered to awe,

became a child again, saw in the comet a part

of myself that wanted to beat the odds


The next morning I woke in the raw

morning sun to find my neighbor’s old

dented pickup parked off kilter in his drive,

and fell back to earth