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Asterism (Visitor Center)

Read by Ernest Hilbert

We examine the ratios of spheres: Pluto
an atom next to the moon, the moon a freckle

on the skin of the sun, the sun a gold fleck
in the eye of Pollux, itself dwarfed

by smoldering Antares — there is always
something bigger. Later, I pack you into me

like a Russian doll, and we draw the curtains
of our eyelids against the freeway’s distant glow,

foglights combing the walls of our tent
like spectral fingers. Morning reveals

we are surrounded by Winnebagos. Still
the blue-eyed grass hosts the violinning

of crickets, the skirring parabolas of rattlers
through the prairie, a wildness audible

around the edges of the parking lot
we mistook for wilderness. There is always

something smaller to knock out of your boots
in the morning. From the pink constellation

of bites on your ankles we infer
motivation: You’re sweetest here. And here. And

here where the yellow-gray vertebral earth
holds our thumbprints for a moment before

turning to chalk, and here where the glass roof
lets the sky inside, and here where the tourists

snapping pictures are a brief galaxy
of flashbulbs refulgent as stars.

Ali Shapiro lives on a boat in Seattle, WA, where she freelances in various writing-related capacities. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Southeast Review, Linebreak, and on anderbo.com, among others. She’s won various prizes for her writing and other exploits, including a Bertlesmann World of Expression scholarship, a Dorothy Sargeant Rosenberg Poetry Prize, and a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship. Recently, two poems were nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Find her online at ali-shapiro.com.