Peripheries by Annie Gilliland
This is the far west land
of disappearing borders.
Where countries bleed into each other,
the wild and the cautious mix,
where vibrant day turns to shadowy night,
and stars rain up from the horizon.
Here, the Milky Way flows like the river
that has been diverted, dammed, and rerouted
through its ancient history.
Here, we bend our environments
to conform to our shape.
But the sky feels untouchable.
The galaxy winds its same course,
the dust lane twists where it always has,
and the lines that weave stories in the sky hold strong.
12,000 years ago,
perhaps someone looked up
and forgot about boundaries altogether.
In the haze of twilight,
the ground and air come alive.
Predatory eyes twinkle among creosote
and exoskeletons glow purple among crumbled limestone,
mimicking celestial lights millions of miles and years away.
The horizon line is dim and gone
and ancient mountains cradle stars,
like lighthouse beacons on each sky island.
Long-nosed bats swoop to the end of their range,
blurring mapped limits away in the night.
Ground and sky are discernibly obscure.
We pause and think we might carry a light, a crutch.
We wonder what’s out there along the scrubby desert skyline.
But under our vast, galactic neighborhood,
without our imagined borderlines
we are briefly lost.
And we abruptly know
that it is okay,
for one moment,
to understand nothing.