The Artist Celestial
With every single line moving further out in time…
Brian Eno and John Cale, Spinning Away
Sketching the world from a hilltop, I am the scribe for the end of the day, but as dark encroaches I cannot tell where my hand ends and the line begins, where the stars end and the sky begins, and the sky pulls me up and out and stretches me to a sketched-out line as I watch myself on a hilltop watching myself in the sky and the panorama grows, pulling back and the world holds the apple and the apple holds the world and the moon rolls round its orbit like a pinball and the line pulls me out into a cosmic string drawing on, and I tumble past the planets, and my hand becomes a comet streaking through the gases of the stars, and I dissipate into cosmic dust, and the galaxy pinwheels back to the beginning when everything exploded from nothing and my hand and my pencil draw it all again.
Before the digital age, if you tuned your TV to somewhere between channels, it would show the faint hum of white noise or snow. One percent of that snow was actually made up of radiation left over by the Big Bang. – Zeeya Merali, A Big Bang in a Little Room
A stranger universe could not be made by man. It blows our minds that TV sets could catch the particles that never fade, that beamed out from Creation, cosmic jets of energy and matter blowing out, but also that we breathe the oxygen that dinosaurs inhaled, and how about the rain that pelts our heads, to think that when Li Po or Charlemagne walked out in storms, the same rain soaked them too. And then it hits us - everything's a cycle, taking forms from molecules and subatomic bits, to supernovas - all of which surprise and show us nothing ever really dies.
I step outside my house this evening, evaluating the stars and my position. Off on another constitutional. It’s always been exactly one mile, but since they repaved the street, it’s now twice as long. It must be that strange pitch and roll, a half-twist about five blocks down, that has changed things, left me strangely unsettled. My perspective feels different, even though the stars, the trees and houses look the same. The thing is, when I’ve gone two miles in a straight line, I’m back at my own house. Another two miles, and it happens again. And again. My street has become a tape loop, a repeating echo, a real-life GIF. I am constantly leaving and returning to my house at the same time. I feel a combination of homesickness and wanderlust. Others I have encountered on my street have the same puzzled expression that I must possess. They don’t know whether to be dismayed or reassured.
We’re never too far from home, but we’re never far enough.
Bruce W. Niedt is a retired “beneficent bureaucrat” from southern New Jersey whose poetry has appeared in numerous publicatons including Rattle, Writer’s Digest, Tiferet, Spitball, Chantarelle’s Notebook, US 1 Worksheets, and Edison Literary Review. His third and most recent Pushcart Prize nomination was for “Vader Redux”, a SF-themed poem that appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of Star*Line, a publication of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. His latest chapbook is Hits and Sacrifices (Finishing Line Press) His work also appears in Mason Street’s Fall 2019 Issue.
Photo by H. Heverlein