When your first born says he might have to move away, the map between here and there blows shut with Dakota blizzards. You recall the Red River Valley and mix the words to the song:
From this valley they say you are going, Tom Dooley, hang down your head and cry.
But you never say Don’t go. You say I’m so happy for you.
And one night you hear your cousin’s cancer count has rocketed back up to 400. You find the old Prayer Notebook filled with tablet paper and names sketched out in pencil. It started with Star—the name of the girl from second grade who kicked you when Miss Conry wasn’t looking. All because you asked Star what she meant by being Jewish and why she hated Christmas.
Writing a name in a notebook is a way to share your troubles. Father Michelotti told you this forty years ago when you thought you never listened. A way to send our prayers into the universe. Waves of courage reaching out to lift us up.
Us being the keyword.
You add your cousin’s name, the pilot in the sky, your daughter’s student’s father who is back in prison, the name of your sister’s dead dog.
Star light, star bright—when you wish upon a star—first star I see tonight.
Upon: According to the 1957 The New Practical Webster’s Dictionary: with all your senses.
And someone leaves a surprise on your desk at work, on a crabby Tuesday day. A bag so filled with freshly picked garden tomatoes, you can still smell earth and sunshine in the bag. Too many for you to eat in time—you make a list of whom to share upon such good bounty.