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Astro-camp at Hazeldean

Jena Woodhouse

astro-camp: an all-night outdoor gathering of amateur astronomers and their telescopes to observe details of the firmament

Dim white cubes near phantom trees

house perhaps a million bees,

whose counterparts are icy sparks

in heaven's vast kaleidoscope.

Camped like space-age gypsies,

astronomers assay their task –

track azimuths from frosty grass

beneath a pulsing tide of stars,

gazing at the Milky Way,

listening for muted notes –

nocturnal voices of the galaxy's

polyphony. Their planetary wanderlust

broods in penumbral moonlessness,

which can't disguise their heightened

consciousness of earthly lease –

how many lifespans would it take

to scan a fraction of what lies

beyond the naked eye's clear grasp,

like jewels behind slabs of glass?

They marvel at the orb of Mars,

magnificent, apocalyptic;

the tarnished lunar horn that suddenly

impales the east – light years

cosmic voyagers must circumvent

or funnel past, in transit to those brave

new dawns their visions have unleashed

Jena Woodhouse has book publications in poetry, adult fiction and children's fiction. Her writing has received awards in all three genres. She spent more than a decade living and working in Greece, where she was employed as an arts journalist for a subsidiary of the "International Herald Tribune", and has also spent time in a number of other western, central and east European countries. She has been awarded creative residencies in Scotland, Ireland, France and Greece. Her interest in archaeology, the arts, languages and cultural history, travel and the natural environment are sources of inspiration for much of her writing.

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