Thursday, November 06, 2008

Through Trees And Clouds, Beauty Without Terror

Right this second as I think up these words
and write them down clouds are getting thicker.

When I woke up and walked to the back yard
there were patches of black between the clouds.
Stars glittered in the sky between the clouds.
Aldebaran in Taurus to the west.
Betelgeuse in Orion to the south.
Regulus in Leo to the southeast.
And in the east through the sparse top branches
of the tall tree right across the alley
the planet Saturn, also in Leo.

Saturn’s dimmer than I’ve ever seen it.
Saturn now seems about the same brightness
as Regulus. And you wouldn’t look twice
at either star through clouds or through clear sky
if you didn’t know the star to the left
was Saturn, the most beautiful planet.

Last night just after sundown, in the west
Venus was the brightest star in the sky.
To the left of Venus was Jupiter,
largest planet in the solar system,
second brightest star in the evening sky.

In the morning sky, now, all the bright stars
are south or west. Nothing catches your eye
to the east. Unless you know what is there.
Regulus in Leo to the southeast
and to the left of Regulus, Saturn.

As I write this dawn is breaking behind
the clouds and the sky between them is blue.
The stars are gone. But before, in the dark,
I took my telescope into the yard.
Through the top branches across the alley
Saturn’s still the most beautiful planet.
The planet’s rings are almost edge-on now.
Almost no light’s reflecting off the rings.
But Saturn, the second largest planet,
still glows a gem-like golden ochre glow.
It’s not deep, rich like topaz, but more like
bright sunlight shining on a lion’s fur.

Saturn in Leo, a lion-like gem . . .

It’s a mixed metaphor kind of beauty
but maybe all real beauty is like that.

Through trees. Through clouds. Dim. Just anonymous.
But when you single out Saturn and look—
carry a telescope outside and look—
Saturn’s still the most beautiful planet.

And sometimes beautiful things—singled out,
looked at carefully—aren’t beautiful.
If you single them out and look closely
beautiful things can be terrifying.

But Saturn is a pure kind of beauty.
Even if it takes a mixed metaphor
kind of attempt to describe the beauty.

Nothing at all there is terrifying.

If you know where to look it’s worth looking.

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