Halley's Comet

Halley’s Comet is a peanut.
Nine miles long, five miles thick.
An iceball with a gravel heart
from Sol to Pluto and back.
Its winter spans decades.
Its summer: days.
That’s when it puts on
an atmosphere.
Sixty thousand miles wide.
And a sixty-million-mile tail:
a streamer glinting sunight
a string of dying diamonds
going down again to night.
 
It is 1986.
We take the tram to Hidden Peak.
We huddle around telescopes.
I squint and strain.
Strangers offer pointers.
Voices grow louder and slower.
Estimates of my intelligence plunge.
Finally, my mom summons
an astronomer from the university.
Even he cannot help.
That’s when I realize
it doesn't exist.
So I lie too and
tell them I saw it.
 
Home again,
an iceball with a gravel heart
makes impact with my ear.
Dirk, my designated bully, howls.
I remember the hunt, his garage,
the bucket of black-red blood,
the inverted buck, throat agape,
an X across each eye.
"We can do you like that too,” Dirk says.
I believe him.
I do the math.
He will be 91 when I hit 85.
In a wheelchair or at least incontinent.
Ripe for what he has coming.
Mine is not a swift revenge.
More like a dish so cold
it has to be handled in a lab.
A dish approaching absolute zero.

My ear dripping like
syrup on a snow cone,
I remember how
the astronomer’s woolen mitten
touched my head when I lied.
“You get to see it twice!” he cheered.
“Today. Again when you are old.”
Ear on fire now,
choking back hot tears, I see
seventy-six years into the future.
A drooling, withered bully
delivered into my hands.
Me finally in on the joke.
Telling grandchildren about
the first time I saw Halley’s Comet.
How it was
bigger and brighter back then.