Saturn, through 82" telescopeComical and clear, like a cartoon
Of something that is too familiar to be real
But exists anyway, defying laughter.

The telescope is lengthened, squat,
Too heavy for its wooden legs
And colder, darker than the sky
Gleaming, slick and wet.

I check the lens, unbelieving
For a planetary sticker, a child’s game
But it is clear and cool, a blank.

And the image remains—
Close enough to touch,
A bauble on a Christmas tree.

But this tree is dark, and its lights are all the same.
There is a tinge of red, of blue in some
Or so they say.
I squint, but wonder if I imagine
Or if there is a third eye that overrides the others
And paints a different picture,
Giving colour where there is none.

The same eye that sees the constellations
Orion, Telescopium, the Sculptor
So that looking through this lens
I am less blinded by the dark,
Gazing from a tree of my own,
Thinking myself watched in turn.

Eyes widen, mirror enlarges
What the pupil reflects.
Which eye is it that sees?
Directs the gaze, and finds the image—
Is it mine, or metal, or another?

Copyright © 2011, O.J. Cade

Image Credit: Jeff Barton and Josh Walawender, some rights reserved

O.J. Cade is a perpetual student who lives near the bottom of the world. She has recently finished a Masters in Science Communication, which included writing a play on the cosmological beliefs of Giordano Bruno, and she is currently working on a PhD in science poetry. She has had a telescope for many years and still remembers the thrill she got seeing Saturn through it for the first time.