Shooting Star

They were lying down watching the night sky,
they were holding hands though they knew
they were straying in different directions,
“Andromeda,” she was saying, but he was looking
at the serpent curling around itself.

They were in a clearing,
his skin was partly running along her skin,
but they had felt for awhile some unhappiness
creeping between them, she wanting this,
he doing that, and year after year
the unwieldy empire of domestic life.

They were alone, they were touching,
though if anyone else had been lying
with them—friend, lover, guest—
they might have turned to him,
“What can you tell us,” they might have asked
in their desperately secret voices.

“Spica,” she said, “Betelgeuse,”
he answered, “Deneb,” and they knew
they were speaking in symbols,
pointing out different magnitudes of stars,
different configurations, carving up
this part of the sky, that part.

Was it too much habit, too much
the daily unbearable routine of themselves
which slanted one body away from the other?

Above them, the galaxy was spiraling upward
in all directions but all they could feel
was an almost falling through, this heaviness
of themselves against the ground,
this one palm pushing against another palm.

One of them was ready to rise and walk off,
one of them was about to say, “I’m tired”
in that familiar accusing drawl
but somehow they were looking now at the same sky
and such was the light that blazed across it
as though Andromeda had been unchained
or Pegasus taken wing or Hercules
let fly his arrow that both of them called out
“shooting star” and were pleased to do so,
to see it together and name it incorrectly

which was really what they had been wishing for,
something serendipitous and wholly impossible
to pass through their lives, his body,
her body, the inexactitude suddenly
of their words coming together,
touching, if only for a moment, inexactly.