“Caught in the Webb” by Melissa Balmain

Melissa Balmain


If you held a grain of sand up to the sky at arm’s length, that tiny speck is the size of Webb’s view in this image. Imagine—galaxies galore within a grain …
—NASA Webb Telescope’s Twitter account

My morning newsfeed teems with shots of space—
bright slopes and swirls of russet and vermilion
that shelter hidden planets by the billion.
Soon, soon my puny brain will try to face
the likelihood that everything I do
is just a blip of no more real importance
than goings-on atop that speck of Horton’s
in Dr. Seuss’s book; that I’m a Who,
and there’s no god who gives a flip for me
or anybody else as we’re revolving
among the other galaxies that hurtle,
all dreaming, planning, acting pointlessly.
Soon, soon I’ll face this—once I finish solving
(ta-da! I did it!) Spelling Bee and Wordle.

from Poets Respond
July 19, 2022


Melissa Balmain: “Yep, this was me the morning the Webb photos came out. Fun fact: taken together, that day’s Spelling Bee pangram and Wordle solution formed the phrase NIGHT ALCHEMY. Mere coincidence? Or proof that a higher power does, after all, care about our tiny pursuits? Discuss amongst yourselves …” (web)

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