At 5:30, my daughter picks me up from work in complete darkness. I turn off the lights and gather the bag of giant pillows someone donated to the town’s free closet. I intend to wash these nearly brand-new things and use them as winter reading places before the wood stove.
All day, I seem to have moved through this strange miasma of timelessness — in a realm where time or month (everything save the year, 2020) is merged into the Time of the Pandemic. A woman stops in and, after town business, remarks about the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, how on planet earth we’re spinning through much larger cosmological forces that we might imagine.
In dark, my daughter drives faster than I would have, speeding along that back road through the forest, and then the road crests a hill and fields open up on either side. Farmhouses are outlined with colored Christmas lights, and overhead, all that sky.
My daughter points to where the even darker line of mountains marks the horizon. There, Jupiter and Saturn are immediately obvious, making their slow and steady celestial way across the heavens.
Our conversation winds back and forth between us, mundane snippets of this or that. I imagine our headlights swooshing through the dark, as the two of us rush home in all that darkness, to the youngest sister at home, cooking sausage and potatoes, the kitchen warm and redolent with baking squash and maple syrup.
Afterwards, we go out for a walk in the deepening cold, under the brilliantly beautiful starlight, until eventually the cold drives us back under our warm roof again.
Oh, God, make small
The old star-eaten blanket of the sky,
That I may fold it round me and in comfort lie.
— T. E. Hulme