Friday

Night in the Southwest

We walk across the street to our neighbors' home and share dinner.

Afterwards, we sit around a cast iron fire pit and toast marshmallows on coat hangers. The darkness brings out the orange in the fire as the pinon wood pops, and clusters of sparks float up on the drafts.

I lean my head back and let my eyes adjust to the clear blackness overhead. The whiter sparks of stars map themselves in ancient patterns across the sky.

It's always this way here. Night after night, the stars come out by the thousands, some bright as a trail of lights on a Christmas tree, others dim and distant, drawing us out to the mystery at the limits of our vision.

It hardly ever rains. Clouds flee the crispness of the desert air, making our skies an astronomer's paradise.

I sit in the chair, warmed by the fire and the presence of my friends.

Once upon a time, these skies would have been an astrologer's paradise as well. Cygnus the Swan wings its way west, Pegasus tosses its mane and arches its neck.

Desert plains have borne the footprints of astrologers for two thousand years.

Three astrologer-kings once saw a star bright with holiness and predicted that the birth of a child would shake history to its core.

What would they see in our stars?