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Falling Stars, Dying Stars

By LC Van Savage

The family went camping, as they always did
Each summer in August when he was a kid
They went up to Maine to the ocean and such
Where they'd roast corn and clams and eat way too much.
At night they'd sit by the fire and sing
And they'd all laugh and talk about everything.
His name was Sam and he'd always remember
Those happy Maine trips straight through to September.
Sam and his brothers and sisters would play
On the sand, in the ocean, day after day.
Sam and his siblings would gather up shells,
Sea glass from the beach, and breathe in the smells
Of the blue diamond ocean which lay like a spread
And laughed as the gulls looped and brayed overhead.
His parents would rent a small boat with a sail
From which they'd fly a huge kite with a tail
They'd pack up and bring a grand picnic lunch
Of chicken and salads and sweet cakes and punch
They'd sail to an island and there they would stay,
Exploring and eating; they'd nap and they'd play.
Then back at the campsite they'd sit by the fire
Again where they'd talk of what they'd aspire
To do with their lives in the years that remained
To them all. They knew in those summers they gained
Important life lessons; they learned about love,
The importance of family, trust and above
All else they learned how family matters
That without a family one's life could be tatters.
But during those summers there was just one thing
That worried Sam's folks, it was never-ending;
It was on those Maine nights, so cool and so clear
(And it constantly happened year after year,)
When Sam's family at night stared up at the stars
And tried to find Mercury, Venus or Mars
The stars in the sky were thick and so near
They'd all reach to grab them, but they'd reappear
In great clouds of silver and sparkle and gold
And Sam's family would gasp at the billionfold
Of heavenly bodies for them to survey
Lingeringly, longing to hold back the day.
But Sam would just never look up at the sky
And his family could never figure out why.
They asked him, pleaded to tell them the reason
Why Sam wouldn't look at the stars in that season
Of beautiful summer, the nights were so fair
The moon was pure silver, hung high in the air.
"Why Sam?" his family would ask him each year
"Why won't you count the stars with us, dear?"
"Oh, please do not make me," Sam pleaded with them.
"I have my reasons, but it's not a problem.
"Just don't make me do it, and one day I'll tell
"I promise I'll do that, then all will be well.
"It's something I thought of some long time ago
"And now I can't shake it, but you all should know
"It's nothing I can't overcome if I try
"And I try, I do, and I'd like to reply
"To your questions of why I won't look at the stars
"And try to find with you Pluto and Mars.
"But I can't do it now, tho one day I shall
"So please do not ask me. Oh please, be a pal!"
So his family stopped asking. Time passed and then
The kids were all grown. The trips came to an end.
Years and years later when the family met
For a holiday, they asked Sam his secret.
He sat down and looked at them all with a smile
And said, "Sure, I'll tell you. It's been a long while.
"Now it sounds silly, but it sure wasn't then
"It started way back, before I was ten
"And I used to look at the sky every night
"And try to count stars and I so loved the sight.
"But it seemed every time I looked up there
"In the beautiful night, that wondrous black air
"A star would shoot past, seem to fall to the ground
"The sight made me turn and run fast, homeward bound.
"A shooting star always fell straight to the earth
"And the sight of that hardly filled me with mirth.
"I began to obsess that when I looked high
"A star would immediately fall from the sky.
"I was so frightened, so young and unwise
"That each time, I thought, when I looked at those skies
"A new star might die and I could not bear
"For that to happen, so I had to forswear
"I'd never again stare up at the night
"And kill all the stars and kill the starlight.
"I know I was young, but it seemed to be true
"That each time I looked up into the blue
"Of the night a great star would shoot into space
"And die! There was no way that I could replace
"That wonderful star. It was all my fault
"That it died up there, way up in the vault.
"So I wouldn't look up when all of you did
"I'd turn on my stomach, my face down, and hid.
"I know now I was just so young and so small
"I know now that I couldn't cause stars to fall
"So now my dear family, now I'm grown up
"You finally know why I could not look up
"At stars with you during our wonderful times
"Together when camping in those summertimes."
So finally they knew why their dear brother
Turned his head down, there could be no other
Thing he could do when they looked at the stars
Trying to locate Mercury or Mars.
He was scared that when he looked at the sky
That he'd cause the stars way up there to die
And he knew his dear family loved them all so
That he kept his head down so the stars could still glow.

2018 LC VanSavage


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