A constellation and constancy.

I craned my neck and peered into the darkness, shielding my eyes from the streetlamp across the street. There it was, rising over my house: three stars in a diagonal line, surrounded by a box of four more.

Orion. My old friend.

I can’t remember when someone taught me to recognize the constellation. But I remember Orion as my companion on the long drives home from grandma’s house. I used to press my forehead against the glass and fixed on the familiar shape in the sky — watching The Hunter stand still as houses and whole towns slid past in the distance.

I’ve poked around with star charts over the years, taken a few astronomy courses, earned a merit badge. When I look up on a clear night, I try to imagine formations I’ve studied and strain to recognize the shapes of Draco or Gemini. On most nights, I’m happy if I can even find the Little Dipper.

But finding Orion has always seemed effortless. I peered out of my childhood window, I stepped out of my college dorm, I climbed out of my car after an excruciating night at the newspaper — all while watching The Hunter stand still as life slid past in the distance.

Article © 2007 by Michael Duck