On December 21, I was outside looking for the Great Conjunction. Maybe I saw it, in the southwest, just beyond the half-moon caught in the branches of a tall fir. I saw something bright, yellowy-red, and then I went to get binoculars. When I returned, it was something else that caught my eye: a blurry group of stars suddenly clear in the lenses of my binoculars. How many times have I looked south and not noticed Ursa Minor tipping its bucket over the sky just beyond my house?
The wagon of heaven, in the Babylonian star compendia, observations and divinations appearing about the 12th c. BCE. And yes, it looked more like a wagon to me than a bear. A barrow, like the wheelbarrow in our woodshed, tipped up against the logs.
so much depends
Other names for Ursa Minor: dog’s tail, trail of light.
Tonight I will be the woman in her nightdress, bare-footed, on the deck under stars, with binoculars focused on the heavens. Send me your star charts, send me your old stories, send me straight back to bed where someone warm waits for me, starry-eyed.
Maybe I saw the meteor shower in Ursa Minor, a blur of starry light tipped from a wagon high above my house on the longest night.