The Astronomer’s Son

4 May 2016

At my birth, he whispered the equations of gravitational resonance into my ears. Taught me to calculate orbital positions of unseen objects.

When I was six, he used fishing twine to string up nine foam balls around the ceiling lamp in my bedroom, coloring each one with felt tipped markers.

Like the moon I turned evenly around him, always keeping one part secret.

By nine, I never liked to be touched, hated to raise my voice or shout, was lonely in groups of boys or men.

He drew me a map each night on blank chart paper. Taught me what I would see: Scorpion. Hunter. Little Dog. The Lyre.

Between the solid inner planets and the outer swirling intangible ones are the ruins that hold the whole system together. There are a dozen theories about why Saturn collected rings or Uranus lies on its side. And me? I always knew I never wasn’t what I was.

These days it is not the language of the heavens but the language of heaven that has pulled us from each other. In an astronomical equation even one digit of difference introduces light years of error.

Sometimes in my loneliness I recite to myself what snatches I can remember of what I was taught: In the shoulder of the Herdsman is Arcturus, the giant orange star.

To live I will have to leave you, I will have to forget the math of round orbits, the rule of even planes. To be true some days I do wonder: In all the endless space of the universe how will you find me?

14,000 years ago, the North Star was one of the strings of the Lyre. 12,000 years from now, it will be again.

I hurl my doubt down into all the unfolding time it takes solar music to resound against the outer planets.

After all, Of all the stars in boundless heaven, it’s the Little Dog that shines the brightest.

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