My father would launch me
to the ceiling and ask,
How do the stars look up there tonight?
And they were bright, the stars,
like his eyes far below. Bright
like the glint of his wedding band,
shining through layers of grease,
marking a safe place to land.

Catch me a star, little spaceman,
he’d call, and I’d catch a breath of whiskey
and hand-rolled cigarettes, mingled
with the sweat of his shirt
as I tumbled back into strong hands.

He’d catch me and hold me over his head,
arms outstretched like Superman, whoosh
me all over the room. We’d loop and soar
until his strength gave out, somewhere
in the world down below. Down in the world
where I stand tonight, my son whizzing by overhead—
wide eyes on the horizon, glimpsing galaxies
beyond the man gazing up and asking,
How do the stars look up there?