Artist's conception of the Milky Way GalaxyAfter a recent trip home
I met my friend Kate
for coffee. After a sip
I said, "I'm worried.
My dad's grown all thick
in the middle. He moves
slow. I fear his heart
is weak. I— he can't
die. I wouldn't know
how to keep going."
Leaving our table behind,
Kate led me to the window
and said, "You can't see it
now, but at night, the
Milky Way sprawls glorious
against the dark." She paused.
"It look stable from here,
all light but stationary. Slow.
In truth, it whirls, and we, us,
our whole world is but a minute
dot waltzing wide on
one arm. But." She winced.
"Burning, it pirouettes and
swings us so because
there is a black hole
at the heart of the glory. Yes.
The heart of light's collapsing.
It will die someday. But
right now it burns, and
spins us all, and when you
stand in the dark, its light
still shines, and will shine
throughout all of our born days."
I found her words cold
comfort in the daylight, but
at night, alone, in the dark,
I could see the galactic heart
shining as a covenant.
He'll spin me on his arm
even when his heart goes dark
and I'll dance in light forever.
When I stand alone in the dark, that,
that promise of love, that's enough.

Copyright © 2005, Greg Beatty

Greg Beatty has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Iowa, where he wrote a dissertation on serial killer novels. He attended Clarion West 2000, and any rumors you've heard about his time there are, unfortunately, probably true. Greg writes everything from science fiction poetry (winning a Rhysling this year) to reviews of books that don't exist. When he's not writing, Greg teaches for the University of Phoenix Online. Greg recently got married.