For weeks I watched them drift towards each other,

Approaching shyly, slyly; two would-be lovers

From a Jane Austen dance, casting furtive glances

Across the ballroom of the golden twilight,

Eyes for no-one else as nightfall drew near.

Venus – lovely and lantern-bright, out-shining

Every other dancer on the floor; Jupiter – fainter

By far but still beaming with a noble light,

Stalking his pretty planetary prey…

The first time I saw them they were still

A third-of-the-sky apart,

But each blazing Turner sunset brought them closer yet,

Each day’s end a little better-placed to gaze

Upon each other’s radiant face,

And a million Earthbound eyes looked on, amazed

To see two such fine celestial jewels

Coming together in the sky.

Some sought out a sheltered, grassy place

Of peace and dark to watch the twin sparks’

Close approach in groups; others stood alone

In overgrown gardens or on concrete roofs,

Marvelling at the view from their light-polluted

Homes, wondering what they would see if only

They could escape the Bright and find a place

Without the blinding security lights’ flares

And streetlights’ orange glare…

Of course, I missed the breathless climax

Of their brief encounter. For half a dozen days

Either side of that ringed-in-red date

My sky was thick with cloud fat and foul,

A star- and planet-hiding shroud draped o’er

The Auld Grey Town that was not pulled away

Until the planet parade had passed by,

And the next time I looked to the west

The best view had come and gone:

Unseen by me, Venus and Jupiter had chastely

Touched fingers then parted, leaving

The lovesick gas giant fading, falling

Forlornly towards the rooftops and trees

While the Goddess of Love soared higher,

Growing ever-brighter as she climbed…

Cheated? Yes. But I have fine memories

Of some magical nights, and a hundred photographs,

Taken from the shores of moonlit, duck-dotted lakes

And crumbling castle walls. Sometimes in company,

More usually alone I stood and watched those distant

Worlds waltzing across the western sky,

My so-often-now world weary eyes

Suddenly wide again with wonder at the beauty of it all,

Listening to them calling “Look at us! See

How gloriously we shine above your sleepy little town…!”

…Far apart now, their dusky dalliance a thing of the past,

Venus and Jupiter are just bright stars once more;

The night sky’s restless showbiz spotlight has swept on,

Picking out Saturn, Mars and a waning Moon,

The Great Conjunction relegated

To Celestial Celebrity Has Been history.

Which is how it should be.

The Earth turns, and turns, and turns, setting a universe

Of stars and planets wheeling around pale Polaris,

Lonely and sentinel-still,

While the Milky Way floats serenely

Through her snow-globe of glitter-flake galaxies,

The prickling breeze of a billion billion suns’ solar winds

Blowing on the faces of the few evolved apes

Brave enough to lift their eyes from the grey

Landscapes of their everyday lives and catch

A fleeting glimpse of beauty in the Great Beyond…

© Stuart Atkinson 2012

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