Hunting for the Aurora

by David Atkinson


A coronal mass ejection
caused me to wake my son
at a quarter past midnight,
on a school night,
and wrap up him carefully,
to shut out the cold,
to keep an cosmic appointment
with electrons, plasma, and protons
that had travelled a hundred million miles
to meet us.

At Magheracross
we huddled for an hour,
hats pulled down, coats zipped up,
squinting at the horizon
for green, and red, and blue
arcs and curtains spiralling to the pole.
The groundswell of a distant
Atlantic storm, searching for a shore,
slammed on the cliff below,
and we saw nothing.

Then we stopped
looking north,
and looked up,
and I gave him Orion,
and he gave me the Plough,
and I gave him Jupiter,
gifts that had travelled more than
one hundred million miles.

His last words
before he fell asleep,
“If it was easy to find
it wouldn’t be so special”.

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2 thoughts on “Hunting for the Aurora

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