Perspicillum*

by Daniel E. Blackston



Absolutely modern, we moved to the country, nevertheless,
with no television, no email, no real computer in sight.
We propped our cheap telescope on a broken stand

to peer cockeyed back through time, bending
the moon to eager irises, searching for the Mare Nectaris,
the ejecta blanket of Theophilus; smiling, in a firefly clearing.

And then ... stars, seeing them as if for the first time,
as though I’d lived undersea, ignorant of the sky,
of its nightly spilled chalice; its sea-towing mantra:

that our beauties should be small and plentiful as wildflowers,
our vanity seared gold only by numberless lightyears’ span.
I random-paged my “Field Guide to the Stars and Planets”

and stared into a six-inch photo of the Lagoon Nebula.
There, I saw the face of a celestial Prince blazing
a trillion solar-systems, while he leaned to kiss his bride,

bedding her to the invisible dark-mantle, over which
porpoises of cosmic light, huge as galaxies, spun and dove
in the gasses of eternity. Meanwhile, pale mankind offered

the leanest of radiances: an indifferent pinpoint lost somewhere
in their forever-star-swept twilight, unseen as a fluff of dandelion
trampled by children in their barefoot play.


Copyright © 2005, Daniel E. Blackston


*"Galileo startled his contemporaries by announcing, in the Sideral Messenger, a number of spectacular astronomical discoveries that had been made possible only by the recent invention of the telescope. But in this revolutionary little work, which marks the transition from naked-eye to telescopic observation, he did not call the new device a telescope, for that term had not yet been proposed. Instead, he used organum and instrumentum, which were familiar to his readers in connection with naked-eye observational instruments. But, more often than both these terms put together, he wrote perspicillum, which had had placed on his title page in plain avowal of his preference."

Edward Rosen, "The Naming of the Telescope"


Daniel E. Blackston is a past contributor to Astropoetica whose poems have been published in many small-press and academic journals. He is also active in the SF field as a writer, reviewer and editor. For more information, visit his author's page at http://www.sfreader.com/authors/DanBlackston/.



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Image courtesy of NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)