Peter Milner



We set off in the rain 

as the night was coming

chased around the lanes

the windscreen-wipers going . . .

we had to try to catch it now

or wait . . . such time 

we didn’t have


So off we went

eyeing up the weather

the gaps in the procession –

we just needed a patch

of clear illuminated sky

low down on the horizon

south or west

we weren’t quite certain . . .

and an unimpeded view

from somewhere up high 


At last, we turned onto a track 

by a ploughed field

wet and black

but on a hill 

and there above the furrows

‘Is that . . ? Two . . .’

Between dark clouds

a distant sight

squeezed together

two points of light 

against the evening blue 


Two planets 

we were looking down a line, 

down an alley in space/time

aligned from where we stood 

on our planet 

we looked . . . out there –

one sphere beyond the other

and that one

ringed, we knew

like a broad-brimmed hat

worn at 

a very rakish angle

and the other, bareheaded

but it always does our hearts good

to see you bright planet – Jupiter 

tonight with your more distant friend

not quite conjoined

but there . . .


We stood and pondered

leaning on the car

Saturn and Jupiter 

staring, taking photographs 

and looking through the lenses 

of our binoculars and not saying –

‘Centuries will have to pass

for the clockwork of the universe

to tick around to this again

for future versions of ourselves 

to see this modest sight above ‘em . . .’

Instead, a dog-shaped cloud 

with an open mouth

drifted in from the south

not threatening 

but reminding us

our dinner 

was in the oven


We drove back 

along the coast 

the sea spread out 

towards the shores of Wales

our planets hovering

we stopped once more

to gawp, to bid farewell

to know we hadn’t failed 

to meet . . .

before the road

turned inland

and we went home to eat

and speak 

about the night’s meanderings




Earth, Jupiter and Saturn were going to be aligned on 21st December 2020. An event not to be repeated for centuries. Sadly the weather on our patch of Earth was rain and cloud for days. There was just one possible break, the evening before, a break in the weather, so off we went . . .’