The Astronomers

We knelt down in the sand where we had built a sleeping pallet out mats and blankets with the moon growing overhead and the surf grappling at the shore.

Between my ears where receptors signal, we were two lovers. And yet, my eyes said this was not the time or place, for we were not alone.

They were our friends, though their thoughts were mysteries buried inside beating hearts, deep enough to consider them strangers. Watchful and indifferent, judging and expectant, they were also our jury, passing time by clearing their throats and casting furtive glances as they unrolled their sleeping blankets and assembled their telescopes. Our companions, with their golden-hair, tan skin and well-fed bodies, were opposite of my love and I who had struggled and starved in the territory by the cow pastures. They did not understand what it was like to steal an ear of corn and drink out of a pond next to animals.

After camp was set up, we pointed our instruments to the night’s sky where we observed the swirling stars and the weight of planets bobbling on a net of dark matter. Soon, we would no longer see the stars, for the universe was bent and expanding at such a rate the celestial bodies would pass beyond our line of sight by dawn. This night would be the final glimpse before the sky went dark, the Milky Way lore, provable only by aging satellite imagery and mathematical calculations.

I lay back onto the ground, feeling my love’s shoulder next to mine, the rhythm of his breath, and gazed upon the orchestra of matter and light, which made me feel small. I thought how terribly sad it was that I was the generation bearing witness to a phenomenon that would enrobe the night’s sky in shifting solitude.

I wanted to express this profundity to my love, but the words wouldn’t form, for the idea of isolation was deeply troubling.

Instead, I choked, “I still love you.”

He took my hand and squeezed it.”I love you too.”

Then we watched until the night deepened, our eyes grew heavy, and the last star disappeared into the infinite beyond.