Splayed out on night-dew
I watched the cranium of the world
flicker with rare red
as nitrogen molecules collided
at the highest altitudes: the cold fire
of aurora borealis, explained
by many tales. In Igloolik
they believed the lights
were laughing, singing spirits
kicking around a walrus skull
in a celestial game of footie. But in Nunivak
this ethereal drapery became walruses
punting the head of a human
across an eternal field.
Astronauts can see the lights from space,
dancing their fluorescent samba
around the North Pole; perhaps
Venusians see them too.
I wonder what the Cro-Magnons thought
as they painted red-ochre aurora
on the ceilings and wall of dank caves?
What did they imagine these lights to be,
these protons and electrons, detritus of sunspots,
bullying their way through the magnetosphere
smashing into gases
and luring our eyes skyward? Did they think
the sun had split the seams of night
to flaunt her secret shades?
The lights were sufficiently spectacular
to merit a prehistoric masterpiece
but the night I lay on my lawn,
watching the entire sky burst
with the fireworks of nature,
I could not convince my neighbours
to leave their blaring boxes, their
Survivor, Amazing Race, Big Brother
to join me
for the real show.