for Lila on the occasion of turning 13
Before the rising of the stars there was the goddess,
whose labor is marked by the milky pattern left
when she flung herself into the fire from which you all come.
Every one of you is a dying blaze and the light you see now,
in things and in each other, long ago sputtered its last breath.
Three times the goddess spoke my name, and on each of these
occasions a star burst into flame. I carry the gifts on my belt
that I might be the true shepherd, the protector of all.
Strongest and brightest among myths, I am an outline
of what you can’t see, like your dreams on the horizon.
When it is too cold for Scorpio’s presence, when Taurus
retreats to the cave, and your asterism of sisters goes nova,
look for me. Look for me when you have been around the world;
Look for me when the Chippewa know winter is coming.
I am here with my club and shield to protect you,
when you awake in the night, look up and you will find me
by first spotting the three Marias near the bison, or
Betelgeuse, who will not explode in your lifetime. I knew you
were coming, and I will outlast you all, and in October
when your great comet hurls pearls across the sky,
my protection will not be dimmed. Always dawning,
never dying, I am your dedicated luminary, your Orion.