Ringing in the new year far from home.
I’m far from home, as far away as one
can get and still be in the Milky Way.
I am, in fact, on the galaxy’s other side,
in the Carina-Sagittarius arm,
surveying, from the safety of my ship,
gamma ray bursts, enigmas of the cosmos.
I miss Earth and the common celebration
of home, for the new year is imminent.
Here, deep in space, time has little meaning.
Indeed, I have set my chronometer
to match that of Earth-time (eastern standard
time no less), yet it remains artificial.
I long for urban camaraderie,
for warm hugs and the blare of noise-makers,
for the excitement and silver confetti.
It's the anticipation of the countdown,
of the minutes and seconds slipping by
as that lighted sphere descends in New York.
They ring in the new year elbow to elbow,
braving the snow and freeze of December’s end.
Technology allows for the world to share,
so those in different countries can enjoy
the orb’s descent and with it, a new year.
I can imagine, but I am not on Earth.
We have mastered wormholes, allowing this
sojourn to the galaxy’s edge, permitting
me to venture close without being harmed,
to ascertain this data for science
as our quest for knowledge remains essential.
Still, I long to share that midnight event.
Nevertheless, I must attend to duty
and record the slightest perturbation
in this region of the galactic arm.
It is a black hole sucking in stars, an
unseen monster of gravitational might
responsible for the gamma ray bursts.
I celebrate alone, knowing back home
young and old alike applaud the ball drop.
Here, in the outer regions of the galaxy,
a neutron star falls beyond the horizon.*
January 1, 2014
*And the horizon here refers to the black hole’s
“event horizon,” which is the region from which
nothing, not even light, can escape.