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AFTERWARDS I STAYED OUT FOR AN HOUR BEFORE THEY MADE ME COME IN
by John Brantingham

I must have been eleven,
(or maybe I was twelve)
the first time I noticed a satellite.

It was the first really warm day of summer
in 1982 (or maybe it was 1983)
when the wind coming off the desert
had blown the smog out of L.A.
and the street lights
seemed to glare less than
usual, and that satellite crossed Orion,
the one constellation I knew, until it
got lost behind the orange
tree in my parent’s backyard.

By the time I’d climbed on
top of the garage to see it
again, it had vanished, and I
stood staring at each star individually—
squinting at each one, comparing
all of them to the stars nearby
making sure they stayed still—to see
if they too would lose their
grip on the night
and fall away into the sky.

PHOTO: “Orion Nebula Crossed by a Satellite” (celestronimages.com)