Rich and strange as a sea-change is outer space,
where energetic electrons blown back to earth
pitch streams of ionized gas toward the poles.
If such a stream breaks off, electrons surge
into the poles’ magnetic fields and light
up: aurora borealis and
aurora australis, the northern and the southern.

I saw the aurora borealis as
a child in Ithaca, the vast night sky
on fire with greens and pinks and blue-based maroons.
My father had buttoned tight my winter coat.
In pockets, my hands were warm. The burning sky
behind the tenement in which we lived
swallowed stars like popcorn at the movies.

And what a movie it was.