middle without an edge


The Long Now
Robin Beth Schaer

The sky is a map of questions: what burns,
how long, where is the middle without an edge?

You ask & my answers are never enough.
When you were small, we lived by milkthirst

& sleep, outside of time & the shifting blues,
unaware of any world beyond the two of us.

But now, you point upward & every question
bears another: how bright, how many, can we live

out there? I warm your hands with mine
& tell you how even stars can be cast out

or mistaken. In the Winter Triangle, the red giant
is Betelgeuse, a runaway in a stellar wake

of heat & wind, & soon to supernova.
Just above the pines is the evening star,

which is also the morning star, & not a star
at all, but a cloudy planet, double-seen,

so close to us. Imagine me in Ohio
and you on the ocean, a pole to the other

in half-dark, where the strongest light
is Venus, low in opposite skies.

Why is it not all one day you ask
& I cannot answer because all I want

is more of your days. If each life is a single
spoken sentence, then I know how yours

begins, but will never hear it whole.
All the time & we do not have time. I draw

a circle split in two. The empty curve is half
a turn, a door, or a burial mound, the way

my body without me is an outline of moss.
I could tell you how distant light from stars

still finds us long after they burn out,
or that bones are made of their dying dust

but that is no consolation. We are experts
at division. You want to know how far,

where we go, & what happens after.
To locate ourselves is to measure separation

from another. We are in the same field
but forty years apart, a thousand feet

above the sea, & five hundred miles
from the graves of my grandparents.

Listen, my love, the universe cannot
be fathomed, not with circles of stone,

an abacus, or even a telescope. If infinity
is edgeless, then the center becomes wherever

we are. You are my fixed point as we spin
on an axis, turn in orbits inside of orbits,

& speed outwards. Instead of a sentence,
may our lives be endless questions. On Venus,

each day is longer than a year, & if we keep
walking toward the sun, it will never be night.

Leave a Reply