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Creative Nonfiction


Celestial Bodies

Madi Moss

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is beautiful in autumn. The wide grass fields peppered throughout the pines are home to herds of small white-tailed deer at dusk. Along the rim of the canyon, down crumbling steps and smooth metal railings, is an old lodge. A small row of wooden cabins stands by its side. Once you pass through the large doors of the main building, you are met by dim, flickering lights and the quiet clank of glass plates and wine glasses.

The restaurant is walled by giant glass panes overlooking the canyon. The sun has dipped down below the horizon, and the edge of the sky has turned a blushed orange. Walking past the restaurant and out into the crisp fall evening air, you walk down those crumbling steps, and you hold on to those smooth metal railings as you walk carefully out to the edge of the precipice.

The fading brightness of the sun’s last rays touch the canyon’s rim in the distance, turning the afar off walls a deep, dark red and the closer cliffs a soft pink. You watch in awe of this grand expanse. This canyon has decades, centuries, eons, and millenniums of stories built into its rocks and its walls. As the colors of the sky fade to blues and then a deep, dark, Southwest black, silence falls over the canyon.

When the world has finally quieted, the iridescent stars begin to appear one by one. And suddenly, your gaze has shifted from the present, the here, the now, the deep canyon, and the tall, rusted cliffs. Instead, you are gazing up and out. You look up at the stars twinkling in every corner of the night. You are no longer seeing just the present but the past and the future. The oracle of the night sky lifts you out of yourself.

Some of the stars shining have burned out and died thousands of years ago, but you are still seeing their light traveling through the void of space, the soul of the star continuing on, even after its death. It's in this moment you learn something.

As a tail of white light falls through the dark sky, you watch as another infinite body plummets to the earth. This one’s brief, bright, burning light will either burst to fire as it passes through the atmosphere, or it will turn to hardened rock as it crashes into the ancient canyon below, joining many other lost and fallen stories in the soft sand of the canyon’s bottom.

Our starry souls like the ones pinned in the sky had lives of before, and now, and after. Even in the cool October air, standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon, watching the sun fall to sleep and the heavenly bodies fill the black sky, you are comforted by the falling of the stars. This moment teaches you about eternity, how one thing never fully dies or ends but changes. Just as a soul’s light, your light, a star’s light, never extinguishes but transforms. That even in the vast expanse of canyon rock, and millions of years, and space, and time, there will always be brilliant celestial bodies.

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