Geodesy

by M. Frost

                [Gk. geodaisia, Fr. geo- ge- + daiesthai to divide]
                              A branch of applied mathematics concerned
                                             with the determination of the size and shape of the earth—
                                                                            —Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary

                                                         Unearth your giant calipers.
                                          Measure our wide, blue circumference
                                                                                                        marvel the radius of wonder
                          as from space. Annotate equatorial terrain—
               sketch the sin curve, the serpent coiled upon itself.
Mark the axes around which we spin,
                                                                                                                       as the serpent curves, rotate
claim each cold pole, the diameter of diamond.
Hunger for economy in each celestial line.

Pray you can solve the problems—line
breaks, litter of satellites, angles and bi-
sections within a radius of hate. Wars fought
                                                                                                                                         wars of economy and space
                                                                                                                                                                        line breaks
for geometric expansion, for reduction.
The global impact of a hundred human snakes
                                                                                                                                                           sections of waste
whose gram weight calibrates infinity.

Insert these precisions into your key equation—
multiply and multiply until you have raised the power
                                                                                                                                        the power, again, the power
past your capacity for measurement—
                                                                                                                                                          broken numbers
divide the remainder by a common
denominator, that dark, scaled ancestor
who emerged from the sea, weightless as origin—
                                                                                                                              as it crawled forth, legless and cold
                                                                                                                as it calculated the sun’s first gravity

Return, at the end, rulers frozen, numbers burned—
                                                                                                                unsolvable problems, they regress
               to the orbit of this earth, this knowable mass—
                                                                                                                with prayer and calibration
                              call it circle, call it source
                                                                                                  call it fire, call it ice
                                                call it to you, giant Ouroboros—
                                                                              self-consuming snake
                                                              feel how it gathers us equally in its mouth—
                                                feel how it gathers us all

Copyright © 2008, M. Frost

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/P.S. Teixeira (Center for Astrophysics)

M. Frost lives in the D.C. area and studies in Baltimore. Her speculative poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Star*Line, Strange Horizons, The Martian Wave and Paradox. Please contact her through her website: http://www.mfrostwords.com.