The constellation Cassiopeia from Uranographia by Johannes HeveliusThrough naked eye and
archaic observation
                    under endless night
                    in a bygone age
ancients attached meaning
to fixed points, light unmoving
                    that appeared each night
                    in calculated
                                     measured
                                                   way

Shape attached to myth
no true pattern but that which
man construed
                      (A queen held captive
                                     upside down
                      A bear tossed to safety
                                    in the cosmos)

Explanations, interpretations
of a world that began to see
                      (A warrior felled by
                                     scorpion sting
                      raised to remember
                                    by higher gods)

the birth of science brought us
eighty-eight stories in the stars

But every 200,000 years or so
                      eons, eons, maybe you will say
the dot-to-dot logbook of our sky
                      subtly, slowly shifts

 Someday
               someday
                      these eighty-eight constellations
tales and memories
will be nothing but footnotes
in an unfixed text

                                    And who will rewrite
                          our night sky?
What stories will be
                  immortalized?
 
Will the constellations renewed
bring us a fresh mythos
to play with and idolize?

Or
will the stars be numbers
unconnected and measured
by brightness, distance, stage
and little more than
                                 that
                                       and
                                            burning
                                                        gas?

Copyright © 2010, Claire Webber

Image Credit: Johannes Hevelius, courtesy of Istituto di Fisica Generale Applicata, Università degli Studi di Milano

This is Claire Webber's first appearance in Astropoetica.