city kids huddle and chatter
uncertain on their first trip
into the wilds of Colorado
50 miles away from the light pollution
still visible on the horizon, a mimetic sunrise,
home where stars are mere points
human ingenuity competes
with constellations – they look skyward,
importing a perception shift

in daylight they used a compass
at night they are lost silhouettes,
lit by faintest moon,
soon to walk alone
flashlights extinguish,
vestiges of the city lights,
as counselors walk away
single file, at intervals,
becoming touchstones on the path

I’m the last one to leave, ‘look up’
Andromeda, Mensa, Cassiopeia,
Eagle Nebula and Butterfly Cluster
‘find your own star,
a focal point in the night sky,
one bright enough to find
when you return home . . .
wait until your eyes adjust
listen, I’ll call you to me’

there’s palpable tension,
faint traces of fear
ripe predecessor to awe
clouds of hot breath
infuse the air
feet shuffle –
an eternity

first student steps toward me,
tentatively, he tilts his head
‘Oh, it’s real, there –
Ms. Anna, I see it!’

everything is new
in the light of awareness,
an encaustic imprint
on the wax structure of his heart
expanding the possible,
intimating the existence
of his redemptive self

23 years later, a millisecond,
a fleeting thought
in the timespeak of the universe –
I float on the dark side of the mountain,
viewing our Milky Way
remembering his first time . . .

Written for Fred’s excellent Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub on what else could it be but first times: