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Ad astra - Ashten Luna Evans

The first time I ever saw the stars with any clarity was when I stood in Grand Central Station as a child, my neck craned to the mural of the heavens.

Stars painted on a ceiling are still real stars.

That’s as real as it gets.

 

I don’t have to invent the kind of things I write about—sometimes reality is enough.

The things I write about are already alive and breathing in the tall grass somewhere.

They bring spindly, trembling legs to stand again and again.

They are the truest of stories, reared in the wind and wild.

 

The day I was born, I started paying attention.

It led to trouble.

Two decades later, I considered leaping in front of the 6 train at the 42nd street station on my way home from work.

This was years ago now, but the train still comes every ten minutes.

 

A supercomputer in servitude, the brain sometimes longs to destroy itself.

It accumulates and calculates and determines that winning is not possible.

Happiness costs too much, my day job earns too little.

Heaven is the empty space between the stars that I demand be filled.

 

I learned that there are pills you can take if you become too preoccupied with death.

They work fine, I’ve taken them for years.

But there is nothing to take when you long to live, fully and achingly, beneath the night sky.

The train comes in fast, but the supercomputer is faster.

 

I remain such a painfully hopeful, hollow-boned thing as I walk these streets.

Somewhere behind me, the flutter of restless wings.

I want to shake all my hopefulness until it shatters and explodes.

I want it all sprayed on the ceiling of my life like stars.

The poem writes itself, and I don’t need to fictionalize.

I love this world too much to ever leave it, even for a moment—even in writing.

 

New York City is food for poets, someone told me once. You just have to pay attention.

Or maybe I said that.

That sounds like something I would say at dinner, right before the check comes.

When I linger at the table, desperate, before I bring my legs to stand again and again.

 

The train roars into the station and it will stop for nothing.

I look up at the stars—the real ones.

Someone put them there, arranged them just so.

 

Ashten Luna Evans is a writer, editor, and a future ghost. She relocated from New York City to a quiet suburb in the Midwest, where she lives with her husband and their two unruly cats. Her work has appeared in Beyond Words Literary Magazine and Blue World Literary Journal.

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