Kay Bushman, a sophomore at U-32 High School, says the vignette in this poem was inspired by Native American creation myths she remembers her third-grade teacher reading to her class.
"Close your eyes," she whispered. He blocked out the stars, squeezing his lids till he could see stars again.
Her quiet breathing filled his ears. The cold hard ground seemed to fade away underneath him. And she spoke.
"When I was little, someone old told me a story about the stars."
He could hear the time in her voice.
" ‘When the world was brand new, there was just brightness and just darkness. Every night, Creator threw a blanket over the world, covering the sky in blackness. All the animals loved the brightness but feared the darkness, and so they held a meeting. ‘How shall we get rid of the darkness?' they asked Lion, the king of the animals. ‘There will always be darkness, as surely as there is light,' the lion told them. ‘But the two can live in harmony.' And he told Crow to fly up to the blanket covering the sky, and poke holes in it with his sharp beak so the light could shine through. After that, the animals never had to be afraid of the darkness, because within the black were specks of white light.'"
He could hear her turn over on the grass, facing him. "Open your eyes," she whispered.
The eyes opened slowly, and there they were, tiny and distant. White lights in the black.
She reached her hand up, as if to hold the sky. "Sometimes, I wonder, if I could just hook my finger around the edge of a star and rip the universe open, what would I find?"