A SONG AND DANCE
Inspired by the story of Wanda Diaz-Merced, a blind astrophysicist who overcame the barriers of sight to study the stars in 2010, using a sonification software that she developed.
* * *
Night on campus
is the same as night at home.
The girl, now a woman, studies the stars,
calculations paving the way to the sky.
She doesn’t know if she’ll see it again,
the ballroom of the night. Her sight wanes,
clouded by diabetic retinopathy.
The night is too silent,
nothing left to quiet her dreams.
Held in the confines of reality,
she can’t study the stars if she can’t see them.
The woman spins in a nightmare,
hurtling through the last days she has
to see the beauty of the starry skies.
Darkness glazes over midnight’s comfort—
the sky goes black, silent in places it shouldn’t be.
Her sight fails, the stars shine
for the last time.
From wherever she looks,
she can only see night.
She has never been scared of the dark, before.
* * *
* * *
People say that her eyes are beautiful,
bright like a star from spectral class O—
the woman hopes they are not lying.
She knows they’ll try to ignore a mind
they think is unusable, barren of ideas.
With her family, her peers, her mentors,
she’ll prove them wrong.
The night sky calls out,
missing her, yearning
for the wonderstruck eyes
that once saw it dance.
In the stars, there’s a mourning song
she tries to ignore—
they keep calling, singing
and she longs to answer them,
study them, gaze at them once more and—
She cannot wait forever.
She will find a way
to see without her eyes.
* * *
* * *
The stars sing.
She turned numbers into graphs, once before,
silent charts stacked high on a cluttered desk.
Now, the scattered points turn into sound,
music. The true whispers of the stars.
For so long, she’s worked for this.
There are things, even now,
that the eye can’t see.
But every soul is a spark of music,
a chord, a song—
so when the stars sing, they are heard.
When she listens, she discovers.
And as she works,
works to open the universe
to open wonderstruck minds,
works to open knowledge
to those who the world deems disabled,
her heart dances.
to the beat of the most
in the universe.
It is a dance
to the song of the stars.
Why do you like to write poetry?
Maria Cheriyan: “There is freedom in poetry. When writing, I can learn its rules just to break them, or stay bound to form; I can produce beautiful works either way. Poetry is where the hands of reality and thought touch, where an impossible comparison becomes true for a line or two and imagination is set totally free. A poem can be rhythmic, rhyming, even consistently inconsistent in form. There will always be more to discover, and this is why I love to write poetry.”