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Star-Swirls - Robinson Jeffers
True Enough: To the Physicist - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Space Shuttle
Diane Ackerman

By all-star orchestra, they dine in space
in a long steel muscle so fast it floats,
in a light waltz they lie still as amber
watching Earth stir in her sleep beneath them.

They have brought along a plague
of small winged creatures, whose brains are tiny
as computer chips. Flight is the puzzle,
the shortest point between two times.

In zero gravity, their hearts will be light,
not three pounds of blood, dream and gristle.
When they were young, the sky was a tree
whose cool branches they climbed,
sweaty in August, and now they are the sky
children imagine as invisible limbs.

On the console, a light summons them
to the moment, and they must choose
between the open-mouthed delerium in their cells,
the awe ballooing beyond the jetstream,
or husband all that is safe and tried.

They are good providers. Their eyes do not wander.
Their fingers do not pause at the prick
of a switch. Their mouths open for sounds
no words rush into. Answer the question
put at half-garble. Say again
how the cramped world turns, say again.

Star-Swirls
Robinson Jeffers

The polar ice-caps are melting, the mountain glaciers
Drip into rivers; all feed the ocean;
Tides ebb and flow, but every year a little bit higher.
They will drown New York, they will drown London.
And this place, where I have planted tree and built a stone
         house,
Will be under sea. The poor trees will perish,
And little fish will flicker in and out the windows. I built it well,
Thick walls and Portland cement and gray granite,
The tower at least will hold against the sea's buffeting; it will
         become
Geological, fossil and permanent.
What a pleasure it is to mix one's mind with geological
Time, or with astronomical relax it.
There is nothing like astronomy to pull the stuff out of man.
His stupid dreams and red-rooster importance: let him count the
         star-swirls.

True Enough: To the Physicist
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

"Into the core of Nature" -
O Philistine -
"No earthly mind can enter."
The maxim is fine;
But have the grace
To spare the dissenter,
Me and my kind.
We think: in every place
We're at the center.
"Happy the moral creature
To whom she shows no more
Than the outer rind,"
For sixty years I've heard your sort announce.
It makes me swear, though quietly;
To myself a thousand times I say:
All things she grants, gladly and lavishly;
Nature has neither core
Nor outer rind,
Being all things at once.
It's yourself you should scrutinize to see
Whether you're center or periphery.

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