The Ring Nebula in Lyra

by David Shaddock


The sages agree: rise up
from the thrum of sleights and wanting.
So we left the Shabbat dishes on the table
and dragged Jake off Dragonslayer,
pumping him with Mars buzz
as we piled into the Camry.

The line for Mars was two hours.
I was glad Jake wanted to stay,
but standing on concrete
killed my back, reminding me
even here, amidst the pilgrims
of the actual, I would be other.

So fluttered my spirits downward
until I saw the big reflector,
mounted in the dome too high
for horizon viewing, nearly abandoned.
The Ring Nebula in Lyra
read the sign scrawled in orange marker
across a dry erase board.

Perched on the shaky stepladder,
astigmatism to the eyepiece,
it didn't seem much, in truth,
a wan circle that could have been
a floater or hair on my glasses.

I tried retrieving something
from the days I was Jake's age
and waited excitedly
for the next Edmund's catalog.
Mostly gone, the words, angstrom,
black hole, white dwarf, sprung
free from their signifieds.

Then I remembered (how being a father
brings it back) that up
was my childhood trajectory,
away from the bickering and TV,
and could be, why not, again:

a ring to grab for,
something to hoist me
into to the cosmos where
I don't matter at all
is giddily sustaining

and lasts through the bottom
of the eighth, the Giants
losing on the radio, when my wife
and son come throbbing
excited back to the car.


Copyright © 2004, David Shaddock
M57, The Ring Nebula

M57
The Ring Nebula


David Shaddock is a poet and psychotherapist. His poetry books include Dreams Are Another Set of Muscles and In this Place Where Something's Missing Lives. His chapbook, After Blake won the 1997 Power of Poetry competition for a book of spiritual poetry and was published in Ruah. His non-fiction books include Contexts and Connections and From Impasse to Intimacy. He lives with his family in Berkeley, CA.


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