Comets of March

Four March comets have come to blaze
across the decades of my life, transmuted in the sun,
with each its awesome legacy, each its special tale.
Four great apparitions warmed the springtime with their glow,
sweeping past familiar stars, prowling midnight’s sky,
swinging out of predawn’s gold, or blazing in the west.

No one dared get too excited at the newfound Comet West
two years after Kohoutek’s dismal flop, but it went on to blaze
as bright as any star in the predawn sky
on chill March mornings, a torch before the sun
that bicentennial spring, and many still recall the glow
of the gently curving banner of its long and brilliant tail

Though Halley shone quite palely and with not much tail
as it passed the Pleiades and arced down to the west,
the fabled drifter had returned, to remind us of the glow
of a score of past encounters, when it had come to blaze
its course through human history, and those who saw it round the sun
most recently, were happy just to glimpse this fickle legend in our sky

While scanning a star cluster in the summer sky
Bopp and Hale tacked another page onto the tale.
Though still two years away from its passage by the sun
the fuzzy blob they spotted from the deserts of the West
was heralded to brighten, and maybe come to blaze
as an awesome interloper amid the starry glow.

With Hale-Bopp still a year away, another fuzzy glow
surged quickly out of darkness, up from the southern sky,
and folks away from city glare saw Hyakutake’s blaze.
Its blue-green head, big as the moon, and long, thin tail
swept by the Dippers and the pole, and passed into the west
as it sped by our planet in its plunge in towards the sun.

When Hale-Bopp finally made its lazy arc around the sun
from the world’s greatest cities one could clearly see its glow
as it passed across the morning sky, then tarried in the west.
For two long months it ruled the sunset sky,
outshining most every star, thrusting out a two-pronged tail,
and the world was awed and frenzied by the comet’s blaze.

Still melting as it swung out from the sun, it continued to blaze,
sinking slowly in the west, tail arched across the sky.
The lord of night, ‘til another glow perks up to carry on the tale.

Published in Tucumcari Literary Review.

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