“Instructions Included with Telescope” by Jessica Young

Jessica Young


At night, in bed, you try to sleep but think of the sky.
On a clear evening, 2000 visible stars. Scintillating,
burning. You pick one with its own Earth, perhaps,

with plantlife—tall ferns pinnate, fronded, veined.
Another with oceans, schools of fish that pull together,
swarm in nearness of hunters. How they undulate,

frenetic, the wall of them a non-thing, continuously
shifting. Black cloud of smoke, swirled vortex, and
all you want is to be sleeping. But the many of them.

And now you think of how every star you can see,
almost every single glowing dot, is in the same galaxy
as you. Of the hundreds of billions of galaxies, you are

in one. Of its hundreds of billions of stars, you see
a small fraction. Which is to say, everything you see
is basically nothing. And maybe it’s this thought,

maybe not. It could as well be something to do with
your body, how lately it feels like someone else’s.
Could be a phrase caught deep in your eardrum,

or simply the hour, but, in a moment, the longing
for home grows so strong you are left defenseless.
And since home is not a place you can dress

and walk to, is not a physical location, your skin
feels that much hollower. And the stars—the stars are
farther away than you could possibly understand.

from Rattle #38, Winter 2012


Jessica Young: “I was doing astrophysics research in Arizona in the winter of 2004. One sunset it occurred to me that I’d just spent three weeks sitting in an office, staring at a computer screen, and coding in FORTRAN. I had written something, but I wasn’t sure what—no conversation was entered. After that I started writing more poetry, and I haven’t stopped since. Poetry helps me feel connected to the world that I so love to explore.” (web)

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