They dropped like flakes, they dropped like stars,
Like petals from a rose,
When suddenly across the June
A wind with fingers goes.
They perished in the seamless grass,—~Emily Dickinson
No eye could find the place;
But God on his repealless list
Can summon every face.
What a shift this is from some of the other Dickinson death poems I’ve read so far this month! Unlike the God who lets children perish unremarked, the God of this poem remembers every face among those who have died. There must have been so much going on inside Dickinson’s head at any given time. I have to wonder if her poetry was an overpressure valve, a way to let out some of the bottled thought before she imploded.
I chose this poem for today not because of the death, though, or the theology, but for the mention of falling stars. The Geminid meteor shower is beginning. You can read about it here. It will be peaking this weekend, and while the waning full moon will make it harder to see meteors, some should be visible nonetheless, and the clear winter air will make up in part for the brightness of the moon.
A meteor is a strange and wondrous thing. Some no bigger than grains, they streak the sky, their death-throes moments of beauty and awe. Each trail of light is the flaming disintegration of a unique piece of matter that is no more. How like soldiers falling. How like a thousand, thousand deaths.
But there is so much beauty in this destruction. Each fall is a flash of wonder, a shred of insight into the workings of the deep heavens.
I hope you find some magic in the night sky.