I’ve had few animal dreams since childhood
when a red-haired cousin
morphed into a lion.

Now, in daydreams, I climb
the milky backbone and wander
phosphorous meadows.

Thirst eased by Little Dipper,
like the ladle hooked to our farm bucket.
Water, sulfuric, cool, spewed
from the iron pump resembling
the magnificent head on uncle’s Appaloosa.

Sailing past one galaxy, a stellar zoo:
crab missing one claw, goat horn rubbed raw.

Sapphire mist under Orion’s belt,
I know where I’m going—
Horse Head Nebula climbing
the thick neck, rich mahogany
embedded in delicate draperies of pink gas.

On my childhood ceiling how lucky:
glow in the dark orbits and planets.
My memories—not a black hole:
my nebula still lit by neighboring stars.