When I was small and went to bed
the ceiling sloped above my head.
The room was dark, the curtain thin.
I saw the headlights hurtle in
to whip across the inner wall
and scale the ceiling, through a sprawl
of shadow from a clothes-draped chair.
Then they were gone. I wondered where.
Sometimes I huddled at the sill
to watch them veering close, until
they lashed their way inside the room.
Was it a message? Meant for whom?
If I looked up I saw the stars:
less flashy than the lights of cars,
less hurried, less inclined to poke
into the eyes of dozing folk;
nonetheless ready to confer
directions on the traveler
who, led astray by his own lights,
could wander lost for many nights.
That, of course, isn't what I said
then, when the stars saw me to bed.
Not here and gone but here to stay,
they made their point a subtler way,
by a slow, pulsing enterprise.
To see them now, I close my eyes.