Astropoetica: Mapping the Stars through Poetry

Galileo Flies at Midnight

Galileo over Io

Credit: NASA

All eyes and brain,
on spire of noise, heat, and light,
armed with instruments to spy on Jove's concubines,
ambassador to spheres so distant

the god's reciprocated thunderbolts themselves fall short,
so we see only his beacon light
and, through mirror eyes,
his deadly, roiling eye,

go, little bot,
to him who loves so many,
tell her he never loved,
Gaiea, called Mudball, Blue Dot, or Earth, and us her anthill spawn,
all.

We scheme to know it all:
his deadly radiance, the pockmarks on his harem's faces,
his storms, his antic moods,
his scars from comets past if there be scars.

Galileo Galilei, the man we named you for,
said, "The world's a book;
learn but the language it is written in,
you will learn all."

That language is encrypted in the fire that launched you,
the slingshot loops you made around the sun
to gather speed to fling you there
(though never back).

Exiled from us years, your eye's still ours,
your brain the brain that sends us precious heresy.
Gravity assaults you? NASA sends lore to set you right,
and still you move.


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Mary A. Turzillo's novel An Old-Fashioned Martian Girl and Nebula Award winning novelette "Mars Is No Place for Children" are recommended reading on the International Space Station. She has been nominated for the Rhysling, the British Science Fiction Association Award ("Eat or Be Eaten, a Love Story"), and the Pushcart (Your Cat & Other Space Aliens, vanZeno). She has recent and forthcoming work in Asimov's, Paper Crow, Analog, New Myths, Strange Horizons, Bull Spec, Magazine of Speculative Poetry, Ladies of Trade Town, and Stone Telling, plus an authorized Philip José Farmer sequel story, "The Beast Erect," in The Worlds of Philip José Farmer 2, Meteor Press, 2011.