Today was downright exhausting, and my hour long walk along the river left me dripping and drooping. It wasn’t different than most days, same time, same place, and the usual 756 miles, according to my old friend Orion, who was watching from his usual perch, unseen, as he prefers it by day. When I was done, I started to complain about how I felt, when Orion interjected, “Just be thankful you’re not in Florida today, its hotter by far, and your usual walk would have covered a full 930 miles today, and there you’d have reason perhaps to complain just a bit.” Heading home to shower, I called out to Orion, “You know you are one heavenly pain in the ass.” “Yeah,” he replied, “that’s what Artemis said.”
Tonight, if the sky remains mostly cloudless I will go out into the yard and select a star. The selection is easy, dragging it into the garage unseen is a far more difficult task. It will have to be a rather small star, a neutron would do but with my bad back the weight might be too difficult to bear. If I cannot find the right star, I will try again the next night, and the next until I succeed and prove mother right, that I can do anything I set my mind on doing.
He asked her what she did, and the question surprised her. Most didn’t ask that until much later on, but she replied, “I am a historian.” He said, “Isn’t that an odd profession,” quickly adding, “and I don’t mean for a woman.” “It is,” she smiled, “but I fell in love with history as a young girl, and I’ve been fortunate to watch stars being born and die, galaxies appear as if from nowhere, seen events that happened before our own sun was born.” She could see he was confused, perhaps that he thought her mad as others had. She calmly added, “You understand, I am an astronomer and all I see is the history of our universe.”
He says we are getting to the point where we can see almost to the edge of the universe, see the moment when all that we know was created, see gravitational waves cast off by the collision of neutron stars. She says that is all well and good, but why can’t he see that he was supposed to pick up milk and bread on the way home, and that they have to be at the school this night at seven to meet the teachers. And, she adds, you do realize that you neutron stars collided when the first flowering plants were appearing on Earth, so in all likelihood, you can’t even blame the snake for it all.
Each night I stare up at the sky, scanning for the one star that is there solely to answer whatever entreaties I choose to make. It is said that we each have a lucky star, but perhaps, given the ever-expanding population of the world, mine is just too dim to see from the city in which I live, or perhaps, I simply haven’t found it, and addressing someone else’s star brings you nothing, not even thanks from the lucky soul who won the big lottery last week all at my urging, I mean how could I know it was their star I addressed with my request, it isn’t like they wear name tags after all. Still, I don’t give up trying, though I often swear that Orion and Cassiopeia spend a portion of every evening together just laughing their celestial asses off at me.
She’s getting downright boring, every night lying up there, staring down when she decides to part the clouds, saying nothing, as though all of the words of praise for her must come for us, unreturned. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised by her vanity, it is why, after all, she is up there now, unable to move and we have to accept that our words are small salve to her when the gods invert her, and she is left to gaze down upon us in her mirror when she bothers to stop gazing at her own image, but she says, “I have all eternity, Poseidon be damned.”
If you set aside the small fact that earth is the only inhabitable planet it’s fairly clear the cosmos gave us a surprisingly bad deal when the cards were dealt. It’s true that Mercury and Venus got no moons, but it wouldn’t much matter for they can see a sun we can’t begin to imagine, huge and ever-present. Even Mars, bloody warrior planet it is, got two, and it got gypped in the grand scheme. From there is a wealth and you can be sure Jovians and Saturnians hardly know which way to look to see a moon rise and set. But we have the one, and it is frankly rather boring, its primary claim to fame being that it is just the right size to blot out the sun every now and again, but the sun never seems amused and quickly returns.
The perigee moon hangs heavily over the city, clinging to the horizon as though it wishes to flee deep into the night, turning away the attention in inevitably draws. We are pulled toward it by some deeply felt force that we know we dare not question, for we must honor the moon’s secrets as we hope she will honor ours.
Sirius, you arise each evening. Your braying washes the night sky, as though to daunt us. There was a time we stood in simple awe having no idea how far away you skulked or of your immenseness, a cold dark point that could barely illumine our occasional thought. Hawking sits pressed into his chair held in a gravity with a force of a thousand suns, all pulling toward a singular focus and witnesses your slow death collapsing inward, downward into your seat on the heavenly chariot until the moment when nothing can escape. Hubble knew you all too well, chasing you across the sky as you dodged flitting just out of grasp. You are the coyote, hiding by day to avoid the hunter, knowing his steps across the mesa, hearing his footfall reverberating through the void. Einstein knew you all too well, although he rarely glanced upward preferring to stare through his mind’s eye, dissecting you, cutting you into neat slices then reassembling you and placing you back on the mantle of his limitless imagination. We no longer fear you, or for that matter, much care your color fades into whiteness and you are lost like another grain of sand on the beach of time.