Its arc crosses Chiron in transit en route
to the endless, echoing song in a keening
of faith, hope or hard speculation. The great
hubris - expecting our synapses spark
to interpret the actions of all we perceive
through the veil of prehistoric dark.
Then I look
at your face, at the crook of your mouth in a smile,
at those glistening pupils in wonder, and wonder
if muscles contracting are conscious conveyance
of empathy, love, or a speck in your eye.
I mimic the motion and move for a kiss,
or a slap, or a head-turn away – we just met
and my sparse information induces a guess
that explodes in nerve endings on fire. Is the red
on my cheek from embarrassment, anger, or mark
of your hand? Do you know? Does it matter? Just maybe,
We have looked over thousands of years at each other
and bonded, communed, gathered tribes and made war.
There is terror in being alone, but we are
and gaze outward and skyward to fend off the fear.
All the time we are processing, internal clouds
are cephalic connections collated but closed
unless metaphor, model and gesture transmit
and receive on a waveband in common.
Of these three, the greatest is – none.
They are all imprecise and translated.
And if meaning is relative, we are at sea
in a turbulent storm we created.
I manhandle the tiller as waves peak and trough
hoping stars will afford me direction
when I notice your lifeboat and try to heave to
with the pair of us locked for protection.
The tempest will pass, but it doesn’t, and our
little coracles link oars with others
till we all get habituated to high seas
on the treacherous land the flood smothers.
We live on a pale blue dot, that’s all,
sheathed by the sun against stronger winds
that ravage the universe, for all we know
and buffet the bubble of our system.
The Traveller crashes into town
dusts off his rawhide trenchcoat
and surveys nearby potential.
He needs a drink, a salutation
to his mythic status, he needs a need
among a local populace...
which doesn’t seem to be there.
Tumbleweed and dust, there may
have been life long ago, or yet to come:
he passes on, unslaked, gathering
memories for a host whom
he will never see again.
Aldous Huxley touched your breast
and the interconnection of atoms
was all his senses perceived. He wasn’t blind,
not then, but the chemistry between you
excited reactions so hard that he failed
to record the jerked breath, the stretched neck
thrown back, or join the swelling nipples
to the dampness emerging below.
The second brightest Huxley son
shone light and dim in phases
as he scoped the strange old world.
The fisherman on the capstan wefting
his needle with a flourish was assessing the stars
and creating a shortcut to his catch. Each knot in the net,
each circumscribed inch gave a name to an unknown
amphibian, but for every fish snared
a mermaid broke surface to threaten and mesmerise
men into folly. The trawlerman found
the ocean implacable, offering
death in its maelstrom, each risk a price
the net’s promise of safety made cheap.
What do we traverse, and how is our passing
waved through? All that matters is not
darkness while a slingshot off the last planet
arrows in time through black space.
Nothing ever - since meteors bounced off from
Mars and microbial detritus hitched
a ride to an earthly crashlanding – has lifted
life to a vector beyond our star system
till this, an encoding offered to everything,
saved with no password protection.
Ripe cherry to be plucked, wide
waterworld just teeming to be reamed,
and lips are smacked in galaxies far off.
Rosie the universal barmaid pulls
a pint, and flicks her petticoats
at unsatisfactory entrants. She knows
what she wants, and whom, but the leather
and dusty greatcoat her stare seeks
stay stubbornly somewhere unseen.
One Jim Beam later the vista is no more
inviting, her anger a fragment of what
we all feel, and won’t cure with inactive stargazing.
That ache in the cavity, pole craving
attraction, that synching of wavelength
needs frequency, presence and pinpoint
receptors to staunch its psychic bleed.
Meanwhile we cartwheel without weight
towards an event horizon. We approach
a dense state we familiarise by naming
a hole, but if that’s what it is, after you, mate.
Where now the innate a priori awareness
of where we are heading, where then the free
spirit or grace or ethics or word,
Where ever can we divine the spark
That ignites the big bang of our feeling?
And yet I intuit this: something not
simply symbolic, systemic or substance
is lurking. Not that it has to be, not just
a fudge to the fear, the implacable end
of the ersatz express existential...
Or it is,
and the cable of love snaps too taut,
an umbilical break and our freefall takes
diametric, discarded directions.
Don’t go. It’s not that I need you
more than life but without you the
universe veers to reverse engineer
to a false state before all this mattered.
Are senses what’s left to be trusted.
Holding your gaze, the cosmos streams into being,
more thoughts than atoms in it all, I look
into an abyss of possibility, into light
and dark matter, seeking the speck
I encounter the beam, losing sense of self
and perspective, until slipping back
the image coalesces to my own reflection.
On the capstan, eyes upwards, looking at nets.
Out there the signal, in here the waves
and the life forms awake, stretch and shrug
as another species suavely steps out
in bravado and into extinction.
And to his sister Rosetta, a small love letter,
an artifact of faith that slung from Mars,
sleepwalked midway through a solar system,
2 years missing all those planetary vistas,
asteroid belt showers, half a billion miles
then to harpoon its finger to a crusty comet
careening at one thirty thousand clicks,
what arrogant ambition underpins its attempt
to see through the dusty rocky clothing to the
blood and nerves beneath. Gases exhale
and the measuring god breathes in and counts,
and juices flow from comet to California, and watery
seeding sprinklings are extrapolated, then:
why then we know what happened four billion years ago
and where we may have come from, but not what we are.
In the end, all it saw was a dead lake.
Unable to hear any shrieks of amazement back home
it clicked and passed on, singing its song
in an endless loop into the boundless.
No hope or expectation here, its travels
signify effort, blind hope, and the same well of urges
that dynamited mountains, murdered other tribes,
and made Newton pause eating his apple.
It was not done for love.
Copyright Chris Hunt 2015