Four Poems by Sally Zakariya






Sky Song

Listen Up: Making Music from the Northern Lights – The Guardian, 12/22/2020

At the top of the North, Aurora hangs
curtains of shimmering light across the heavens
floats waves of color – green, purple, gold –
into the sky

And whispers to the world

The Inuit have heard it for years – selamiut
sky dwellers, the voice of ancestors

We’ve crossed over but we’re still here

Now scientists hear it too – whistling,
rustling, hissing, humming

They’ve captured the sound, explained it

Solar flares
electromagnetic waves
temperature inversion layers
low frequency receivers

Forget the science

The sky is singing

Look up and listen

Star Light, Star Bright

“The universe is under no obligation to make
sense to you.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

I never asked the stars to spell your name
or said the sun should rise especially for us,
and when the full moon went into eclipse
I never thought night darkened just for us
and us alone.

There’s something to be said for planets,
how they ride their measured rings
around the sun, and something to be said
for meteorites, those rocky tears
the cosmos sheds.

But let science say what can be said
about it all – it makes no sense to me.
I watch in wonder as the heavens
wheel and drink it in, enthralled.

So when you talk of perihelion
or perigee, event horizon or
ecliptic, I nod, then smile inside
and think, how lucky that the stars
aligned for us.

Toward Equinox

Animals first entered the imagination as
messengers or promises. – John Bergen

A crow tells me about the sky
tilts his head, folds his wings
around him like a cape
fixes his dark eye on me

Listen to me, he says
or seems to

Squirrels practice brush-tail
acrobatics in the trees
plant acorns in the leaf-strewn

We promise the year will
turn, they tell me or
seem to

I picture a new day opening
in the trees, trembling leaves
whispering to each other

A terrestrial event no more
magical than the turn
of a page but how much
more profound

Listening Notes

Woke up to news about music
the radio lulling me with stories –
not politics, not crime, not entertainment
but music and our human need
to make sound into something more –
note, pulse, cadence, melody

Story 1
Archaeologists dig up a conch shell
carefully crafted eons ago
not into the expected drinking cup
but a musical instrument

A French horn player cradles
the conch, blows two notes –
low and lower

Story 2
A scientist adds microphones
to a Mars explorer to pick up sounds –
the ship touching down, the planet’s
ambient noise

Not exactly music of the spheres
but don’t tell me Mars won’t find its way
into songs

Don’t tell me the planets aren’t singing
to each other

Sally Zakariya’s poetry has appeared in some 80 print and online journals and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Her most recent publication is Something Like a Life (Gyroscope Press). She is also the author of Muslim Wife, The Unknowable Mystery of Other People, Personal Astronomy, When You Escape, Insectomania, and Arithmetic and other verses, as well as the editor of a poetry anthology, Joys of the Table. Zakariya blogs at

Image by Rochus Hess, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons

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