The Stars Are a Comforting Constant: A poet blends the personal with the cosmic

Christine Klocek-Lim in Nautilus:

ScreenHunter_2380 Nov. 18 19.15The first time I saw a meteor, I’d slipped outside to lie in the grass after everyone else had gone to sleep. The daytime commotion of my cousins’ and siblings’ games and my Poppop’s blaring polka music often drove me to tears. As an introvert, I wanted nothing more than to escape the chaos of my childhood and let the quiet of the night sky comfort me.

I grew up in an economically depressed Pennsylvania coal town as the middle kid in a poor blue-collar family. My parents never read to me or talked about the stars; they were too busy working, my dad as a painter in a factory, and my mother as a short order cook. I spent most of my childhood reading anything I could get my hands on, which wasn’t much—tattered and incomplete set of encyclopedias, the odd science book from my school library, and ragged novels stuffed haphazardly on a shelf in the basement (the best ones were the science-fiction stories). For as long as I could remember, I wanted to leave home to explore strange new worlds and capture them in writing. A high school essay won me a scholarship, which allowed me to go to college and study poetry.

I’m not a physicist. I never studied astronomy in school. For me, the stars are a comforting constant: They are always above me whenever I take the time to look up. In college, I hung out with engineers. My husband is an embedded firmware developer. My older son interned at NASA the past two summers doing robotics research. My younger son is studying environmental science. I’m a nerdy poet surrounded by geeks, so it feels natural to blend poems with stars.

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