Looking With the Eyes of Warmth

by Greg Beatty

Spitzer  Space Telescope drawn against an infrared skyLook into the night
with normal, mature vision
and you will see stars.
Myriad. Shining. Glorious.

The stars aren't just beautiful,
they are necessary.
They guide our sails;
they weight our stories;
the closest warms our crops.

Sometimes, though, questions coalesce.
Where did we come from?
What about the stars?
While we're asking,
what about the whole big shebang?

Normal vision's useless here.
We only see darkness.
Energetic, ultraviolet eyes are
worse than useless.
They burn away the nebulae
that serve as stellar nurseries.

But soft—fear not, you
have another set of eyes. Seek hope
and answers in the infrared.
Do so, and you'll not pierce
but gently peer through nebulae
to watch gentle stellar births.

And all those hot explosions
of the start of it all?
They've grown red with time.
So when vision fails to give
you answers, put out a hand
as you might to a popping fire
Look with your infrared eyes;
you'll find answers warming you.

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.

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Artist's conception of the Spitzer Space Telescope courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech