Because patterns emerge from a distance,
humans map heavens before they map the earth
or as Heraclitus puts it—we are most distant
to that which is closest: i.e., ourselves.
And the ancients agreed—Eudoxus and Hipparchus,
Aristotle and Ptolemy—who mapped the night skies inside out
to offer the gods’ perspective, gods
somewhere far beyond the stars
in houses bricked in dark matter,
with black hole windows and white dwarf fireflies
flickering on their lawns.
And then Copernicus came along.
I’ve always wanted to say, “And then Copernicus came along”
at a party as someone intelligent and beautiful walks up.
Or even, “Planet comes from Greek for wanderer.”
Tonight at a party I watch a man
make love to his wife across the room
through a teenage babysitter, the daughter
of a mutual friend. From here I can see his wife, our host,
move from anger to jealousy, then after
a drink through embarrassment to something like resolve,
imagining past the fight they’ll have
all the way to making up.
She charts his progress through her martini glass
as if it were an astrolabe—how he sends the girl laughing
then brushes her knee before it’s pulled back.
He swells with an energy reminiscent of his youth.
There’s a devil’s ball hanging near the entry
the shape of its creator’s last daily breath,
multicolored and reticular, to ward off evil, he explains.
She caused this party, the prime mover
compiling the guest list and mailing the invitations;
She arranged the furniture into an order to compliment
the architecture and the movement of the guests,
the movement of Vivaldi through the rooms,
access to lobster and oysters and the open bar.
If perfection in a host exists, she’s it.
An hour after the last guest departs
she’ll look down onto the man she’s created into her husband
and he’ll stare up into her divine and starry eyes
and to get back at her for seeing love in him,
something redeemable and good he’s not sure still exists,
he’ll pull her close to whisper sweet theories
as distant from the truth as he can imagine.