Orion does a one-handed handstand over the spire of St Andrews. Balancing precariously on Bellatrix. Or is it Saiph? The maps are all the wrong way round. Every night, later and later, and how come I'm here to see it? Not every night. Feel better calling it Te Waka o Tainui. But I live here. Where too it is seen as a canoe. Julpan. Makes more sense. Two blokes in Arnhemland, brothers, went fishing and caught one they weren't allowed - up their boat went into the sky, a lesson to us all. Now I'm thinking of Noe's waka snagged on the steeple of Ararat. When Joseph Banks went climbing on Tahiti-nui, 1769, he wondered if the Great South Land had somehow submerged and that the peak he was on was a remnant. He may have been wiser than he knew. We used to call it the pot. And that's still what I think. First constellation I ever saw, or remember seeing. Out on the broken asphalt of the old tennis court at the Burns Street house. Held up my father's arms probably, after we got out of the car. Whispering star, at once a hushed intake and an outgiving of breath. Amazed to see it, and to see it yet - but how could it be otherwise? The self-centredness of the child, rocking along the continuum of spacetime. The self-centredness of the universe. Anyway, the pot. Boiling up dark matter in its silver pan. If you enter the magnification of telescopes, you discover unimaginable fires, dust clouds, births of suns, the whole violent panoply of creation. You imagine the unimaginable. And you can. Every night. Then say the names: Rigel. Betelgeuse. Bellatrix and Saiph. Alnitak, Mintaka and Alnilam: they're the belt. Don't know what the stars of the sword are called. The Shepherd of Anu, Sumerians said, they saw a crook in there somewhere. Uru-anna, the light of heaven: that's where the word came from. I see a pot. Then a boat. Then ... a dancing man, or acrobat, pirouetting around a steeple. Later and later.


Richard Taylor said...

Who id this painting? This is great writing by you again.

Richard Taylor said...

"did" that should be