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Halleys Comet

by
 Miss Murphy in first grade
wrote its name in chalk 
across the board and told us 
it was roaring down the stormtracks
of the Milky Way at frightful speed
and if it wandered off its course 
and smashed into the earth
there'd be no school tomorrow.
A red-bearded preacher from the hills with a wild look in his eyes stood in the public square at the playground's edge proclaiming he was sent by God to save every one of us, even the little children.
"Repent, ye sinners!" he shouted, waving his hand-lettered sign.
At supper I felt sad to think that it was probably the last meal I'd share with my mother and my sisters; but I felt excited too and scarcely touched my plate.
So mother scolded me and sent me early to my room.
The whole family's asleep except for me.
They never heard me steal into the stairwell hall and climb the ladder to the fresh night air.
Look for me, Father, on the roof of the red brick building at the foot of Green Street -- that's where we live, you know, on the top floor.
I'm the boy in the white flannel gown sprawled on this coarse gravel bed searching the starry sky, waiting for the world to end.

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