The air is crisp, the desert temperature cooling rapidly now that the sun has made its slow, painted retreat. We stand in a large field, five of us, and stare skyward at a sea of sparkling pinholes. Our guide points out a bluish nebula where baby stars are forming, a “star nursery,” he calls it. To the right, a shooting star falls past the horizon. Overhead, Betelgeuse, the supergiant, glows red. Its neighbor Sirius, the dog star, pulses brightly.
 
“Look to your left,” says our guide. And we watch a small blinking light rise from behind a mountain. It continues its ascent until the earth’s shadow obscures our view. “That was the International Space Station.” I think of the people orbiting up there, how small everything must look, and how spectacular–the earth a glowing ball of blue and white.
 
How I wonder what you are.
 
He beckons us to the telescope and I squinch my left eye closed and peer through the tiny viewfinder. The brightest spot in the sky is now before me, captured like a firefly in a jar. Jupiter. It is blindingly bright, and beautiful. I can make out the brown rings and the four Galilean moons, two a side. I pull back into the darkness for a second and then eagerly squint into the light again, holding my breath, burning the image into my awestruck brain.
 
I want to take it home in my pocket like a souvenir, this dark night in Sedona. Everything is quiet and magical and cold. My heart is keeping time with the earth’s rotation. I am alive.
 
Days later, the plane flights and laundry have transported me back to a more muted reality. But as I unpack the dirty shirts and red stained shoes, I can hear the clip-clop of the horses’ feet, see the painted clay underfoot, feel the sharp intake of cold night air under a field of sparking stars. I wasn’t able to fold Sedona into a pocket-sized keepsake. But that bright dusty desert came home with me anyway, lodged in some previously ill-used crevice of my heart.



Sedona
Sedona

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