I was reading about the Herschels:
Caroline, out on the lawn, catching comets by the tail;
and William, stretching a ruler from star to star.
Across the street, my neighbour
climbed a ladder and gathered an armful of light,
wound round his elbow on invisible thread.
(Viewed with attention, like the Herschels’,
the Pleiades become a sisterhood
more inclusive than first thought.)
To see this for myself, I’d have to go out
in the dark garden, unafraid
of what I might learn, of what might
disrupt my preconceptions, require me
to expand my imagination,
and watch, and wait.
Crevasse and chasm, piano, bookshelf, mantel: we set off
when all the rest have got there, go the long way round,
know nothing of what draws us save that far faint blaze
of glory glimpsed across vast empty skies. We saw,
and set out on a path long known, unprecedented,
traced our own steps; idled, forgotten,
one last unlikely leap compelled us, just in time. To see,
learn what we had forgotten, remember what we longed for.
We have been here before, but never quite like this –
– For one brief day we stand before eternity,
knowing at last, and seeing, seen and known,
this moment not to be clung to, lost in its attainment –
– Journey done, we wait once more in darkness. Next time
we’ll start again from the beginning, knowing
the way to be long, fulfilment fleeting,
but worth the travel, travail, this time, next time,
for all time. Beyond time.