I wish I could stand

alone with you in this castle’s serrated

shadow, shivering under

a brittle winter sky, and flying

high and far away with your

hand in mine,

leave this town and land and planet

all far behind to see things

as they really are.


Watch the Sun shrink to a

tiny star, corn-gold, colder

than most, smaller by far than

the poppy and sapphire giants blazing

in Orion’s sharp corners over there…


Soon the Sun is lost,

asleep beneath a quilt of pepper-

fine points of light.

No sight of its sunspots, faculae

or flares; barely there it fades through

the froth of the Local Arm’s

sparkling surf.

A candle flame lost in a furnace’s blaze.


And then we see it… the Milky Way – our


swirling whorl of wood-smoke Home –

in all its galactic glory.

Laced through with ribbons

and knots of blazing infant suns,

its swollen, egg yolk heart bloated

with ancient amber stars it waltzes

through space with silent grace,

a twirling whirlpool

of gold and blue suns and gas

so vast Sol’s system seems but

an atom in one cell of its behemoth body…


Our Galaxy shrinks, sinking away,

flailing deeper into space,

great feathered arms and spurs

reduced to blurs by distance.

Suddenly, from one side

Andromeda’s bulk comes barrelling in,

swimming out of the darkness

to dwarf our galaxy’s glittering

curls, its swirling arms soaked and

fat and saturated with stars;

groaning under its own weight

Andromeda’s fate is to crash

into our far humbler Milky Way

in a billion years or so, tearing

her limb from frosted limb,

scattering her orphaned suns like glassy

beads sprayed from a broken necklace –

but not yet.

Not yet.

For now the two cathedrals of light

will fight a phoney intergalactic war,

dancing with each other at spiral arms’ length,

ten million years between each wary step…


Farther and faster we fly, and now

it is Andromeda’s turn to sink

into the sucking ocean of space.

We watch it shrink, glimpse other

starry spirals through crevasses

cut between its dust-dappled arms

until it too is lost in the Great Dark,

just one more misty spark

of anti-darkness…


More galaxies crowd our view now,

flashing and dashing in from all sides,

a hail of them, all shapes and size:

edge-on, needle spears of silvery-white,

fat and face-on plates of star-stuff

until soon they are all that we can see

and the sky is just a misted-over

window, stencilled with tiny pretty

citadels of light…


Finally, weary in our bones we pause

and stare delighted at the sight of galaxies

strewn across the sky like snowflakes,

a blizzard of them, thick clouds and sweeping

banks of them, glittering and wafting and

tumbling on the cosmic breeze, each one

home to at least one species convinced

theirs is The Only One, the one all other galaxies

revolve around or are fleeing wildly from.


Reaching out my hand I trail it through them,

smiling as they flow around my fingers,

part for them, swirl and furl

between them as if they were mere

flower petals strewn on water,

spinning, twirling, disturbed by a passing breeze…






“Which one is ours?” you ask, searching for

one snowflake hidden within the whiteout of the sky,

already knowing in your heart it could not

possibly be found.


“All,” I reply, “this whole surging blizzard is our home.”


Or, one day, will be…


© Stuart Atkinson 2006

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