Author’s Note: As an East Coast suburban boy, light pollution meant I never saw the Milky Way until a trip out West. Our children were getting older, soon to college and busy lives, and only my wife had ever been to the southwest, so we planned a trip for December 2018. That moment—to try to put into words what it means to look up and be dazzled, even when you intellectually know what you’re going to see—still fills me with wonder.
the milky way at 47
I never saw it before, never understood what it was
when people talked about it, sure, I guess I saw it
in movies but never connected that to the real
even in mongolia we never saw it, though that is
a place people use for stargazing, with the steppes
and no light for miles, but it was cloudy three days
and we never glimpsed a star. so take me to monument
valley, utah, on a night in december, and let the two
younger kids sit in the room and veg out while we
(meaning wife and oldest daughter) take the rented car
down the road a few miles, between the buttes and
silent monuments, to the pullout on route 163 just
over the arizona state line, and wait as the last car
passes us. we get out and turn off the engine, kill
the lights, scuff across the gravel shoulder to lean our
backs against the cold metal of the SUV and look
up, up to what I never understood, what I knew
only in abstract. oh. oh, now I see. infinity.
David Galloway is a writer and associate professor of Russian at Hobart & William Smith Colleges. Born and raised in Maryland, he has lived in upstate New York for the past twenty-five years. His poetry and essays have also appeared in Atlanta Review, Rattle, Chiron, Typehouse, Gargoyle, and Penn Review, among others. He is the author of “poyms for people” (Kelsay Books, 2021), his first full-length collection. Website: davidjgalloway.com
Delmarva Review publishes evocative new poetry, fiction, and nonfiction selected from thousands of submissions annually. Designed to encourage outstanding writing, the literary journal is nonprofit and independent. Support comes from sales, tax-deductible contributions, and a grant from Talbot Arts with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. Website: DelmarvaReview.org.