V838 Monocerotis Light EchoAztecs knew it was a she-God
penetrated by obsidian knife
who birthed a litter of starry sons
and one sad pale daughter;
a weeping parasitic shadow,
faint reflection of that glittering
hard brood, sheathed in black,
unrelenting as the fertile blade.
But anaemic moon and harsh suns
came together to kill their mother,
who had sought to create again.
Others tell that heavens hatched,
the whiter part of a separated egg;
the dark half became the earth below.
Division kept clear by a useful giant,
fearful of re-immersion and loss.
His gleaming hair, floating upwards,
stroked galaxies into glinting trails,
speckled with pale eggshell eyes.
Pangu, great world protector,
who pushed, then slept and died.
Science says gas called to gas,
dust to dust, and the elements
collapsed into each other's arms;
exhausted dancers, heated
to their life-pumping core.
Planets gate-crashed later,
drawn in by gravity's hooks,
spinning to his constant rhythm.
Hangovers, we turn and turn;
a billion years or more before
our small star overdoses on time.
Alice after the whole cake,
it will telescope up,
and mushroom out.
Crimson festive ball,
ecstatic, expansive,
will touch us, torch us;
fire us up once more.
Then dust will call to dust again;
smooth stellar segue playing on.

Copyright © 2009, P.S. Cottier

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI)

P.S. Cottier lives in Canberra, Australia.  Her first book of poetry, The Glass Violin, was published in November 2008 by Ginninderra Press  and a collection of short stories will follow later this year.  She holds a PhD in Literature from the Australian National University, and has worked as a lawyer, a union organiser, a university tutor and a tea-lady. She is totally and irredeemably innumerate.