Six Thousand Prayers

by Barry Ballard

In another solar system, there’s an unknown
family burying one of its children,
in a ritual of sky-like halftones
we can only imagine.  And the end
of their light, their sorrow, only reaches
us after their grieving has already
taken place, a star of prayers among the speechless
dying six thousand they say we can see

with our naked eye.  And even the parents
dead before they could plead with us that their
child deserved a life, already their words
nothing but the soft bleeding dust of red
hydrogen, their fear not even creasing
our rituals of despair, our blue atmosphere.

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