Zinnia Smith is a writer and painter, living between Boston and New York. She graduated from St. Lawrence University with a BA in Fine Arts and English in 2015. Her work has been previously published with The Southampton Review, Yankee Magazine, and online with Story Magazine.
Tonight, we chased mars
around the sky.
Once, the Ancients tested the muscles of their eyes
pppppplooking for the dim second star of the dipper
ppppppppppppppppppppppp(my own eyes are too weak to spot it)
but with the telescope we spot a
ppppppglobular cluster like a puff of smoke—
pppppppppppppppppprecision is necessary to discover
light beams stretch out like the points of a compass,
ppppppfocusing and expanding
pppppppppppppppppppppppthe lights bouncing off the lens—
pppppppppppppppppchromatic aberrations that spread the light to colors—
and I think it’s beautiful to
ppppppwatch Jupiter’s light twist, spiral in
and out like a
pppppppppppppppppdancing spider web of light.
The telescope turns the luminaries
into olivine dust
and for a moment,
I joined the school of the lapidary,
collecting the lamps of the night sky
by cutting the tilt of a lens,
obstructing or collecting
light waves from epochs ago.
A pinpoint born of a nebula
as the Ancient’s lineage begins and decays,
all the little white
the density of matter
in the dark space.
ppppppppppppppppppppppppppTell me Father, is this the universe?
ppppppppppppppppppppppppppIs this the cosmos?
ppppppppppppppppppppppppppThe system of the heavens?
ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppRed Mars, glowing.
Father, tomorrow arrives in the morning, and
ppppppI wish I read more—
ppppppI wish I knew more—
ppppppI wish I could stop and try again.