I've been talking to the map all afternoon.
As we speak, it draws out different star clusters,
Tells me dispassionately what we are passing,
Goes out of its way to convince itself
I am interested. I knew
Just after the map loaded and happily flickered,
Heaving our star drive into pulsed blue
And gold and setting us single-mindedly
About its plodding programmed way,
That the map was wrong. Somehow
I had gotten it in backwards. The nebula
On the right should have been on the left;
The seven-star spinning system should
Be spinning the other way; the image
Of a woman we see in certain star
Alignments turned out to be a fish,
And with too many fins. Solar systems
Backed up instead of leaning forward.
The map has been so very nice about it.
Never an unkind word, and always
With a pleasant distraction, a plea for wonder.
I point out the problem, it comes up
With a rational conclusion, touching
Only lightly on my incandescent
Ignorance. Maybe I programmed it
From a mirror gaze; or somehow
I got turned round in the rendering
Apparatus; or the sex I had mid-development
Flipped the stylus polarity. Oh yes, the sex,
With hopeful mindlessness and splendidly feral oblivion
Was that good. But now I am heading
Away from any practicality, or of ever being
Carnal again. But the map is very nice.
Its voice is a blend of solace and strength,
A hammer on the nail just right.
It understands. I understand.
The way it points is my way.
It is not within the map to make a choice.
From a Frozen Planet
I remember a wedding on Fornax.
The juices of Cepheus.
A girlish sneeze in the Virgo cluster.
I remember every third star was bent
on getting home before dawn.
The smudged thumb of the universe.
A calm in the eye of the mind's storm.
It was warm for midnight,
the gods' dog, Sirius, snarling,
asteroids taking their star turns,
dark matter spangling the ozone.
Light kicked holes in night's imperfections
and the candy-canes of Sagittarius.
Red-headed Mars was over the moon,
Neptune cradled under a willow's arms,
being gently soothed, rocking back
and forth to the music of Time.
I remember a cosmic spider and galactic web.
The carbon dunes in Perseus.
Mispronouncing, twice, Iapetus.
I remember a night so quiet
you could hear the planets thinking
and a sulphur-slide on a faraway world.
I remember a last gamma-ray
before daylight barged in,
before the sun's brash glory
before morning's boast and courage.