Winter 1999 • Vol. XXI No. 1 Poetry |

Celestial Mechanics

I have always been the poor student, failing geometry and physics, confusing quadratics with differentials. You could explain it, master of calculus, the night sky the screen of your overhead projector as you distinguished terrestrial from extra-terrestrial, then sailed ferocious Orion, south by southwest, a forty-five degree angleoff your back step. Sir Isaac Newton implied, you said, that it all came down to gravity and motion; bodiesmoving through space will attract each other. But it is a law of physics that they must keep moving. In Newtonian mechanics the stars are in their courses, grooved and suspended in space, gravity pulling bodies toward other bodies as they themselves are pulled toward something else. This is known as balance, equilibrium, grace. Space is everywhere, endless and empty, it both is and contains what we know of the universe, and we may safely deduce that our world is as it should be as this is how it is. It is all so simple: the stars are in their courses,

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