…the dread of something after death –
The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns – puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of…
(William Shakespeare, Hamlet)
What dreams may come when we set out for stars?
What will we find when, solar systems pierced,
We gaze beyond the reach of looking-glass?
That our Sun has a cousin much more fierce?
That Pluto’s a planet after all? That we
Are not alone? That man’s an errant knave?
That, mirrored in Kepler 452b,
We see our fate: as rock without any wave?
Still, wave; don’t drown. Light millennia stand
Between us and our twin; no cheap flights
To suss out greener grasses. Best-laid plans
Must prove themselves or else be caught in light.
Hope makes a fool of missions to other spheres,
Always ready when true land appears.
Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?
To the untrained eye, nothing has changed:
smoke still billows from chimneys;
mornings are dark; alarms wake too early;
the mad prince still fools the diplomat with his madness,
the sane with his sanity.
To the untrained eye, all these clouds look the same
and cannot be seen for the smog.
Brakes still wail; billboards roar;
by afternoon, relax your tie –
yet it is not like it was before.
This flesh-and-blood normality
denies this Nonetheless which sits
beside us and inside and knocks
us sideways with its shock of grace.
Everything is rent in two;
these clouds are never still, and all
these forms we fill will not contain
what lies before our way.
For every indifferent sigh, repent;
as the lie falls away,
falls the Day.