A Starry Explosion

By Erika Dyk

I. Bowman, early 2000s

A light blue 1990 Plymouth Acclaim

The passenger side window
Yields to gravity

White winter on the seat

The clock, blank,
Until pushed.

Green light in time

Driving broken under the night sky—
My star-bound chariot


II. Camp of the Cross, Summers 2006-2007

I woke them up.
My sleeping cabin.
I was supposed to be sleep-deprived,
Supposed to be exhausted.
But it was night and I was alive
With those stars—
Never could sleep well at night—

They had to see those stars.

Rewind.

A year before.
Same camp on the shores of Lake Sakakawea.
She, the Great Question Asker, posed a simple/deep question:
“Where do you most see God’s glory?”
My answer—a heartbeat thought: the stars.
Her heartbeat answer challenged me—
Changed me: people, first.
But the stars, a close second—
Always a close second.

III. Fargo, April 2007

A dark call by daylight.
The news:
Great Question Asker and her mother and
A drunk driver met under the stars—

I don’t know what to do.
So I play softball—an extra player on a dry field.
Waiting to play, I call my high school-don’t-talk-to-enough friend—
To simply express my love—life is short.
Her words etch in my brain:
“My uncle died last night
On that same stretch of highway.”

Stars collide.

IV: Highway 85, for too long

Too many chariots on fire on that road.
Because not just those three,
But also him and him and him and her.
High school classmates, two of hims—
Only a year after high school graduation.

That road on fire with alcohol and oil and death.

Under those stars—those fiery, fierce lights

V: Mandan, 2007

Easter lilies at your double funeral.

So much life in death.
So much death in life.

Did you know that car that night was your beyond-the-stars chariot?
Did you, Great Question Asker?

VI: Yunnan, China 2013

An overnight bus—
A temporary star-bound chariot.
We were two foreign girls with little Chinese
Top bunk, my legs scrunched
She slept; I didn’t.
I gazed at those stars
Almost all night
It had been too long.

Pollution in my ears, my eyes, my heart
Gray skies—by day and by night—
Gray skies and no stars.

And although the artificial stars
The fireworks factory blasted
Screamed color, they were but
Pale imitations.

I saw the people and not the stars
And I remembered you and your question often,
Great Question Asker.

Did you know, Great Question Asker, that I would need your words?
Did you know, did you know?

Great Question Asker, thank you for your questions.

Your questions that took me beyond the stars.

Beyond the stars.