M87

Before orange jumpsuits with flowerpot hats
came the concept of a shooting star, streaking sky,
sizzling imagination like a flash in the pan.

The Star burns bright, wobbles prettily. Still,
isolation stealths up on it like a neurotic fan
mumbling the universe is expanding.

The Star spins, obscuring information. You can fool
some of the people most of the time, but not the celestial
mechanic. Quasi-stellar, he decides. Gaseous enough,
but not a real star
.

No easy exit in this life—Doppler takes the red shift,
polices the Milky Way like a traffic cop. The star must pass
through ranks reversed, yellow giant, red and white dwarf,
to reach the omnivorous black hole; the end of the world

A graph can plot luminosities. We hear light curve and see
a red carpet rolled in stardust. So does the hardhat drummer
beating rhythms with take-out chopsticks.

Below the scaffold, a whistle screams STOP. A dog wags
its invisible tail and the wobbling world doesn't miss a beat.

Copyright © 2006, Cheryl Snell

Image Credit: NASA/CXC/W. Forman et al.

Cheryl Snell, the author of two chapbooks of poetry, Flower Half Blown (Finishing Line Press, 2002) and Epithalamion (Little Poem Press, 2004), is a two time Pushcart Prize nominee. Her novel Shiva's Arms is forthcoming from Writer's Lair Books.