Shadow Constellations

From my hospital bed, I have nowhere to look at but the white ceiling above my head. My diversion is to muse over the tiny pores that form constellations of shadows on the Styrofoam ceiling tiles. There are pores of all sizes – from the ones big enough to immediately catch my eye to the ones that are barely visible. Between the tiles, aluminum joints – as white as the tiles themselves – make sure the ceiling doesn’t fall over my resting body.

Today, the hospital ceiling is my universe.

I imagine a negative sky where the stars are the pore shadows, and the cosmic blackness is the reflective white Styrofoam. I source to my imagination as my surroundings offer me nothing but hoariness.

Oh! There is the North Star! This one just looks like Scorpius. Is the cluster over there Lyra?

When I was little, I used to stare at the night sky for hours and notice the heavens and moon move from east to west in a coordinated fashion. From day to day, I would notice small differences between the star positions, and after just a few nights of stargazing, I could predict what constellation would be in what section of the sky at a given time.

The nightly movement of the firmament around me gave me a sense of safety and stability. No matter what happened to me or the world I lived in, I knew the stars would always be there, like celestial guardians. They wouldn’t change, they were predictable. The stars became my friends, my only reliable companions. Every night, I would tell them secrets, ask for advice, vent my daily frustrations, cry… After each conversation, I’d always feel better and sleep peacefully.

Today, on this hospital bed, I try to make sense of the little pores on the tiles. As I look at them, I remember the seemingly infinite hours of stargazing during my childhood. I try to find the similarities and patterns. But as opposed to the night sky, these constellations don’t move around me. They are static, dull, boring.

Soon, when I’m able to lift myself up, I’ll stand up and draw lines connecting the ceiling dots. Aquila, Cygnus, Hercules, Ophiuchus, Sagittarius… all these constellations will be born out of plain whiteness. It will be my gift to the next person who lays here. While their bodies get the deserved rest, their minds will have something to muse.