When reading poetry I try to think like astronomers. They are a doughty lot, trucking with the unexpected, stalking questions that defy asking.
“What I really hope for is something we don’t expect” [John Mather, Goddard Space Flight Center, on what he’s looking forward to studying with the James Webb telescope]… “The [Webb] telescope was built to answer questions we didn’t know we had.” [Klaus Pontoppidan, astronomer with the Space Telescope Science Institute].(Dennis Overbye, “Webb Telescope Prepares to Ascend, With an Eye Toward Our Origins,” NYTimes, 12-20-21)
“The universe is queerer than we can suppose,” said Arthur Eddington.
I encounter poetry that emits a waveform outside my sensory range. It triggers an attraction-repulsion quandary. Do I try to sharpen my sensors and orbit it to pick up signals? Or do I blow past it and keep prowling for detectible mass and gravity?
I’m currently in orbit around Louise Glück.
… Waveside, beside earth’s edge, / Before the toward-death cartwheel of the sun, / I dreamed I was afraid and through the din / Of birds, the din, the hurricane of parting sedge / Came to the danger lull. / The white weeds, white waves’ white / Scalps dissolve in the obliterating light. / And only I, Shadrach, come back alive and well.(From “The Inlet,” in “Louise Glück: Poems 1962-2012”)
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