Here’s our best guess: Betelgeuse explodes
in the next million years. Forget the moon.
It’ll shine like a second sun, and who will know
the difference? How many can point out the Pole Star?
Sometimes I forget which way is north. Sometimes I see
a murmuration of starlings circle a building half a dozen
times before they choose a direction. Sometimes, I hear,
the whole planet turns itself upside down. Does that mean
rivers run backward? Does that mean continents
migrate to the other side of the equator? Physicists
say gravity does not pull; that mass distorts space
and gravity is space pushing back. Does that matter
at all to how we understand ourselves? Probably
not to those of us who use our thumbs and index
fingers to distinguish right from left. Certainly not
to the man who wants the fastest route home.
Most of us use a broken understanding of the world
and get along just fine. So should we ignore the new
planets discovered every week? Does it matter if
the birds fly north or south? I’m searching for
a model that simplifies all human knowledge.
When Betelgeuse becomes a pulsar, will I pretend
not to see it spin like the galaxy’s spastic lighthouse?
It depends on if it illuminates the last
ten million years, and the next several thousand
no human would otherwise see.

  • Some of our collective nouns are truly silly. When I learned that a group of starlings is a murmuration, I had to find a place for it in a poem.
  • This poem was first published in Connotation Press.