Observing Comet Hale-Bopp, Summer 1997

Every evening during the summer I had to water

Grandma’s stunted Colter pine

it grew out of a wine barrel

that was slowly falling to pieces

its rusty iron flaking off to mix

with dried red pine needles

and pitiful pinecones

half-cooked on hot asphalt

I would stand there with a green hose

looking up into the twilight

when the day started to cool

trying to guess the type of plane

flying overhead by their navigation lights,

counting the handful of stars

until I could see the comet

trailing its tail a good distance

across the blue-black of the sky

as luke-warm water from the hose

pooled around my bare feet,

not knowing that this spectacle

would mean more to me in 20 years

than it ever could then.

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