‘Conversing with Stars’ by Katarina Xóchitl Vargas

creative photo of person holding glass mason jar under a starry sky

Dad died in the spring
    in the brown reclining chair, 
        without morphine, 

         before sunrise, 
    as elliptical galaxies 
retired to cosmic caves,

like whales into deep sea.

Yesterday, I learned 
     that space recycles stars—
          That when one burns out, 

           it splashes out sparks 
     of elements, that birth new stars,
traveling in clusters, like fish.

Maybe, if I look long enough

into May’s night sky, 
    I might catch a glimpse
        of Dad, swimming in space, 

       25 million light-years away:
   his giant fins causing constellations 
to sparkle, with each sweep. 

I empty my heart to Ursa Major tonight. 

For, every cell in me, 
    wants the trio of time, 
         dementia and distance

         to return Dad to me, 
    so that we may contemplate 
the minutia of our ebbing existence, 

and the edge of the universe,

and what’s beyond, 
    and what’s beyond the beyond,
        as we once did

when I was thirteen.

(April 21, 2022) 

Meet the Poet!

Katarina Xóchitl Vargas (she/her) is an emerging Xicana poet, originally from Mexico. After her family moved to the U.S, she began composing poems to process alienation. A dual citizen of the U.S and Mexico, today she writes resistance poetry and lives on occupied Tsenacommacah territory where she is working on her first chapbook. Xóchitl is the first-place recipient of the inaugural Mulberry Literary Fresh Voices Award. Her poems first appeared in Somos en escritoThe Latino Literary Online Magazine, Cloud Women’s Quarterly JournalThe Acentos Review, Penumbra and Barrio Panther. Follow her on Instagram @Cantos_de_Xochitl