Preposterous Universe

Friday, September 24, 2004

By Adrienne Rich:
Thinking of Caroline Herschel (1750-1848), astronomer, sister of William; and others.

A woman in the shape of a monster
a monster in the shape of a woman
the skies are full of them

a woman         'in the snow
among the Clocks and instruments
or measuring the ground with poles'

in her 98 years to discover
8 comets

She whom the moon ruled
like us
levitating into the night sky
riding the polished lenses

Galaxies of women, there
doing penance for impetuousness
ribs chilled

in those spaces         of the mind

An eye,
        'virile, precise and absolutely certain'
        from the mad webs of Uranusborg
                      encountering the NOVA

every impulse of light exploding
from the core
as life flies out of us

        Tycho whispering at last
        'Let me not seem to have lived in vain'

What we see, we see
and seeing is changing

the light that shrivels a mountain
and leaves a man alive

Heartbeat of the pulsar
heart sweating through my body

The radio impulse
pouring in from Taurus

        I am bombarded yet         I stand

I have been standing all my life in the
direct path of a battery of signals
the most accurately transmitted most
untranslatable language in the universe
I am a galactic cloud so deep         so invo-
luted that a light wave could take 15
years to travel through me         And has
taken         I am an instrument in the shape
of a woman trying to translate pulsations
into images         for the relief of the body
and the reconstruction of the mind.
This is fun, I may just turn this into a poetry blog.

Ideas on culture, science, politics.
Sean Carroll

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