Erin Ganaway

Pater Ad Astra

Before the breakthrough—the time when the sandbar
out front of our house gnawed through, leaving us
exposed to the unbridled ocean—there was a parking lot
at the end of our street. To that boundless flat,
you took me to point out the constellations:
the Big and Little Dippers, Cetus, Sextans, Octans.
You placed a palm on the small of my back, kneeled  
beside me, and stretched your arm in the direction
of the tar-black sky. It was magic, the way you knew
how to connect the glowing dots, like painting by numbers.
Come morning, a kaleidoscope of umbrellas specked
the scant strip of beach, and the ice cream truck beat
out its path to the lot, stopping to present drumsticks
and dreamsicles, sodas and malts. I hop-danced
over sizzling asphalt, perched on a beach chair, let
the melting chocolate run sticky down my arms. Yet truly
anticipating nightfall, when you would dazzle me with the stars.

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