The inspection done and the crew gone home,
I slept on a rough plank dock beneath the wing.
Bedroll laid out on a mattress of red life jackets,
A hasty tarp pulled on top at one a.m. when rain spit down for half an hour.
By three in the morning the sky was clear again.
It was still dark, and the wind had calmed.
I rolled over, faced east and — There you were!
For the first time since late March your three-star belt, your scabbard and shield.
“Hello old friend Orion,” I said aloud to the night.
I’ve missed you through these long bright months of spring and summer.
And now it is September, and you are back.
No frost yet, but at dusk the high peaks to the southwest were all white.
Orion, I greet you gladly, but I know what you bring.
Soon you and I will be out in the dark morning, my thick fur hat scrunched down tight,
Nose-hairs frosted, cheeks stinging, fumbling with headlamp and numb fingers,
To warm an icy lump of engine and wrestle with stiff wing-covers.
Orion! A familiar sharpness surges in. The season tilts.
Brother, Old Hunter, climbing into the sky.
May I say, my friend, on this mild night – that you’re looking pretty good?
Somehow softer, less stern? Have you mellowed since I saw you last?
We all do, I guess. And this is nice here, isn’t it?
This gentle warm night, this quiet brown-water pond,
This trusty red plane on its fat white floats,
All tucked up easy against the smooth flank of the mountains.
I smile, close my eyes and drift off again.
Deep growl of a truck, shifting and accelerating, heading for the Yukon.
At sunrise I will fly north to Yellowknife,
And from there northeast to home, and the start of autumn.
Orion is back. Old friend, brother hunter, arm raised, belt cinched,
Good Sirius panting happy at his heels.
But hey – who would want Summer to last all year?
Not you, Winter Star Man, and not me either.
- Parker Lake, outside Fort Nelson B.C. 7 September 2016