We paddle through reeds on the black water
where the redwings whistle and sway.
A cold still sky receding.
We lift our paddles and we can hear the drip from the blades:
our boat is the center of slowly expanding circles
It took the astronomers by surprise when they found
by the red shifts
that galaxy after galaxy was moving away from ours,
as if ours were uniquely repulsive, a cosmic pariah.
But it turns out
or they think
or it may well be
that everything is moving apart. It's not just us.
Gravity, we're told, is the weakest of forces:
the whole vast Earth, with its nickel-and-iron core,
straining with all its might, pulls me with only
a couple hundred pounds of force. I can push
it away with my two human legs;
I can push against it so hard that a space
opens between us. We call this jumping.
It's such a weak force that it can't stop
the expansion, can't even slow it.
We gather what is closest
but the islands are drifting away, each from each.
Picture leaves on the expanding circles: each one
moving away from all the rest. That, they say,
is what the galaxies are doing.
Well. They were not such good company, after all.
Never spoke to us. We can do without them.
There's no need to draw comparisons
and say that people drift away through life
and wink out at the extremity of vision,
little clusters of thoughts that are drawn to each other
but that have no force to reach a foreign mind.
There is no need to regret our birth as the beginning
of progressive separations, of widening distances.
Back water. Easy all. There is this too: we step
from the wobbling canoe to the rough wood planks,
and all the drifting drifts away:
we sway, but we know it's our inner ear
playing us tricks. This is how solidity feels
after being long adrift: like drift.