How to Invent Constellations

What we see, we see
and seeing is changing

—Adrienne Rich, “Planetarium”

Before, you balanced the universe
on an apex of curved glass, the velvet black
a telescope-trapped stage
dizzied with motion and light—Aquarius
filling the Dippers’ mouths,
the way the wingbeats of Cygnus disturbed
Orion’s aim, Cassiopeia’s perfect coifs.
Now when you recall those constellations
it’s their bleeding you remember first,
how they elongated in the ship’s window,
stretched into strings of light
thin and fragile as latticework,
until all that was left were their purple ghosts
receding into your eyes. Then, faster than
light, you arrived, disembarked. Nothing
on this new planet seemed more alien
than its vast, unnamed sky.

—Todd Dillard