Comet Hyakutake

Midnight, Mar. 24, 1996

What we saw up there by the familiar
handle were the trailing gases--
a traveler in an ordinary starry sky.
A friend, her breath rising as plumes of wisdom,
tells me we should write out these cosmic 
comings and goings for far off generations,
how we stood on frosty lawns or fields
or drove away from the city's distracting glare
and peered at a new light in the warehouse 
of heaven, not as bright as we'd hoped--
a fuzzy wandering eye in the spring of '96, 
end of the Millenium, almost. 
It wasn't God who appeared, 
furious at our failed world.
What we witnessed was purely predictable, 
a piece of the machinery. 
Hyakutake, an amateur, saw it coming--
ice, rocks and gases--
trash from the beginning of time.
Just as Comet Hyakutake appeared
and held us rapt with its vague blue,
the first crocuses emerged in a shadowy  
corner of the garden, 
lit their pale purple lanterns 
and ended winter.

Edward Harkness