2010 – Megan Baxter – Northern Lights

Reflection selection from the 2010 issue

Northern Lights
Megan Baxter

My father rolls us out of sleep, my sister and I, and pulls us into our snowsuits and boots and mittens. It is so cold that all night the house has been crying, mother has woken every hour to fill the wood stove. A scarf is pulled over my mouth and nose and they pick up my little sister because she is still mostly asleep as we step out onto the porch. This is before the house was built in the hayfield and everything is very quiet and the snow is thick, pulling down the pine bows. We walk into the yard, my father leading, breaking a path for me and mother in the deep snow. At the edge of the field we stop and sit and look up at the sky, which is bright and pale because of a full moon behind us. A river of pink and green light moves through the sky, like fireworks, or a watercolor painting and in a quiet voice, as if being loud would make them stop, my father, the scientist, tries to explain to me about the northern lights, about magnetic fields and sunflares and the atmosphere. I only remember that they were fluid, and completely independent of this world, and how cold it was that night, making everything crisp to the point of breaking, and how my little sister was asleep and does not remember. We sat there until they began to fall behind the tree line and an owl called out, asking who, who, who, the question ringing back and forth from the edge of the field, to the side of the house, and into the forest.

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