Jim Daniels

April 24, 2020 Daniels Jim


Watch the International Space Station pass overhead from several thousand worldwide locations. It is the third brightest object in the sky and easy to spot if you know when to look up.


Dinner tonight with two married gay couples
and their kids. The women have a boy.
The men have a girl. Off playing
video games in the basement.



Growing up in Detroit, our imaginations
limited by polluted night sky, oblivious
to constellations of shame, we teased
each other for admiring the moon.
I never looked both ways
before I crossed the street.



Linda looks it up on her phone.
Lynn rolls her eyes. Still, we step out
onto the porch at 8:17 in Pittsburgh,
on October 23, and wait. We have not
turned our furnaces on, any of us,
but we will soon. Couples lean
into each other for balance
on this dizzy planet.



Linda serves tamarinds. None of us
have tried them before. For dessert,
we eat donuts decorated with dulled
vampire teeth and blurry witches—
who can make anything graceful


on a donut? They’re made to be gripped
with certainty and bit into and swallowed.
We discuss donuts and memories
of donuts and Halloween and costumes
we no longer wear forever.



The kids stay inside. No interest
in seeing bright light zipper silent
across the sky, but the rest of us wait,
as we have waited for many things.
Porch light off, so as not to interfere,
yet tonight, we have found our way home.



After it passes, we go back in to round up
the kids, deal with life on earth.
The girl asleep in a father’s arms, the boy lost
in the safe couch of home’s dreamland.



Outside, we said nothing,
then we said wow—even that
too much in that grand silence
of changing seasons. Does the crew
circling the earth ever tire of wonder?


Ken’s from Michigan, like me
with the flat vowels. Jack
was my student thirty years ago,
engaged to marry a girl.


Linda, my wife’s oldest
and best friend. Linda and Lynn.
The Linns. What made her think
to watch the Space Station pass?


A white dot moving across the sky,
not a falling star, or a star at all.
I guess the kids take it for granted
what we can do now, the sky seamless,
not falling.

Jim Daniels’ latest poetry collections include Gun/Shy, Wayne State University Press, and a chapbook, The Human Engine at Dawn, Wolfson Press. His next fiction collection, The Luck of the Fall, Michigan State University Press, is forthcoming in fall 2023. A native of Detroit, he lives in Pittsburgh and teaches in the Alma College low-residency MFA program.