“Sky and Stars” by Juan Montes ’22 (above)
“Starry Night” by Grace Wilson ’23
My phone reads 7:11 PM as I’m boarding the train to Long Island. Just on time, I think to myself, relieved that I wouldn’t have to spend the night in a hotel here in New York City. A few moments prior, I was making my way through a Barnes & Noble in search of a new book to delve into. The “Bargain Book” table is undoubtedly my favorite section. Two months ago, I had promised myself I would finish all the books on the table. I already adventured into The Complete Collection of Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, and Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Each book branded its own unique impression upon me. Glancing at all the hardcovers, paperbacks, and Flexibounds, I found myself gravitating towards The Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson. The book seemed to smile at me as I extended my arm to pick it up. “This is the one,” I whispered under my breath.
The hissing and screeching of the brakes on the track wake me from my daydream. Just three more stops to go until I can nestle into bed to say farewell to the day. I reach for my shopping bag that’s resting between my backpack and the side of the train. As I open up the front cover, a symphony of crackling sounds emerges. The first page reads, “‘The stars awaken a certain reverence, because though always present, they are inaccessible’ – from Nature.”
I look out the window, and beyond the glare of the fluorescent lights, I see an infinite sky of dark splattered with stars of light. I focus my attention on one star in particular, its pulsating glow in sync with the beating of my heart. I can feel its radiating warmth travel through the veins in my body. Alone with the stars, I am at peace.
The star-lit sky is my map. Every star represents a fault, an accomplishment, a wish, a failure, a truth, a lesson learned. Each constellation represents another chapter of my story. Every night, the stars put on a performance in their dome theatre, the moon being their spotlight. I am the spectator, though I never knew I was. I remember wishing upon stars as a child. I remember always trying to find the Little and Big Dipper. I remember thinking that angels communicated with each other through the flickering of stars after watching It’s a Wonderful Life. I became blind to the gifts of nature around me. I wore a disguise that concealed my youthful heart. I found what I had lost at that moment.
The train halts. I step onto the platform with my book clutched in my hand. I take a deep breath and, once again, look up at the sky on this starry night.