the astronomist

It is blasphemously cold tonight, but that does not concern her.

She slips out of the window, planting her bare feet in the blanket of snow of the overhang. The thin green flannel afghan is all that shields her frailty from the intrusion of the wind.

The crescent moon hung low in the sky, the better half of it shrouded by the shadow cast by the earth. She glances up, knows the metaphor painted in the night sky is reflected in earthly caution, in contrivance. She knew someone once who only allowed certain bits of brilliance to be reflected in his words and actions toward her. The meaning, the motive was always shrouded.

Whether this was perception or reality, she did not know. At least with the rotating, spinning, revolving bodies in the universe, there were discernable laws of gravity and energy governing their motion. Calculation and observation could always be counted upon to unveil some kind of understanding or new theory.

Paradoxes and paranormal. Seems to reflect the dual, contradictory nature of quantum physics.

The moon, however shrouded and mysterious, still seemed familiar and true when compared to the infinitely burgeoning universe.

She swings the telescope to focus on two distant points of light. One burns brightly, hard and bright and blue. A brilliant star in its prime. The latest observation and mathematical calculations conclude the star is barely 5 million years old. It has been burning, emanating energy, pulsating and releasing light and heat into the cold and dark of space. Nearby planets and moons find themselves gravitating, settling in toward it, compelled and seduced by its youth and brilliance.

But again, this does not concern her.

Lingering in its shadow, the star is dying, a nebula unfolding and collapsing and surrendering to the chaos and order, dictated by physics and time. As the light and dust swirls together, she imagines a lone astronaut soaring through its tendrils, ephemeral and gentle. His ship brazenly floats past the point of no return, seduced and thrilled by thoughts of death, and of immortality. He is fascinated, obsessed, slightly suicidal, but mostly passionate. He is searching for life, for the power to master his destiny and his love.

The terror of exploring the universe shrinks in comparison to pushing on through the mystery of another human being.

She shivers, draws the blanket closer around her, thinks she should go inside.

But she remains outside for a few more moments, luminous, lonely and wholly captured by the myth unfolding above and within her.

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