Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Edge of the Universe

forty-nine years from tomorrow, a now-
forgotten astronomer, feeling himself
unloved, will meticulously align This
Solar System’s Single Most Valuable
Telescopic Collection*, lens to
eyepiece, on the observatory of a
packed metropolis. Many somnambulist
voices will whisper—hushed,
never to drown the sacred
scraping of copper upon copper
which holds them so
awed.
The gray-eyed astronomer is like
very many scientists of his time—
as he has gained both inches and
wrinkles he has lost also the
curious patience of the
answerless question
which had once found gods
among combustion;
his eyes now turn upward only
in order that he might limit
heaven.
reverence falls swiftly, like a vulture,
and all car horns pay respect as
the prune-toed astronomer takes his
look, ceremonial; the exhale,
when it comes, is abrupt and
relieved—like all who confront the
infinite so indirectly, he has found
that precisely which he sought,
and the uncompromising
absoluteness of the blackest
shadow before him fills
the astronomer with a certainty
of hopelessness.
He nods smug, doctoral assent to
his anticipatory audience,
while, two too light-years
further, the light of a just-born
star speeds toward them
through a realm which
space can only hide,
never to be witnessed in the
life of the now-loveless
astronomer.

*Time Magazine. August 12th, 2046.

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