Sunday September 8th, 2013

The exercise:

Write about: the universe.

We hosted our third annual farm BBQ this evening, with an excellent turnout of around 35 people (though that number includes quite a few children). It was a lot of fun, especially once the actual cooking was finished and I could sit down to eat and talk.

The weather was pretty much perfect for it, as we had blue skies, sunshine, and temperatures that peaked in the high twenties. Glad to have all that work and preparation behind us for another year though.

Plus in the middle of all that chaos I found out that someone bought one of the 8x10 prints I had hanging for sale at the bakery here in town. That's a first for me and totally made my night - whenever I had the time and space to think about it.


On a night like this, when clouds are a distant memory and the stars look down upon us with no competition from city lights, I find it impossible to avoid returning their gaze. The earth invites me to join it and I do so, hands folded behind my head.

Together we contemplate the vast, sparkling and dark universe before us. There may be no proof that life like ours exists on other planets, but I cannot imagine how that could be the case. Not on a night like the one I find myself surrounded by right now.

It is too large for us to be the only intelligent life within it. And besides, we're not all that smart anyway.

I like to think, in my darker moments, that all the other beings out there, wherever they may be, know enough to avoid being detected by our searching scientists. That they have no interest in dealing with Earth and our nonsense.

Perhaps we really are alone, though. Maybe there is no one looking back at me as I stare up into this perfect night sky. These twinkling stars are as empty as our televisions.

I find that thought deeply unsettling, for it means I have no hope of escaping this place.


Anonymous said...

Thirty-five is a good number no matter how it was made up! And the important thing is that everyone had a good time, anyway :) It really doesn't feel like a year since you last mentioned the barbecue though, so it is amazing how time flies.
Your prose is very contemplative and considered, and it's easy to read, even with that slightly surprising last line. A whole universe... just to escape from?
Well, I might just be with you on that!

The Universe
To seek eternity in a grain of sand,
To open up new worlds, unplanned –
To live your life without rehearsal,
To hunt for things that are universal...

Taking joy in your children's smiles,
Laying a thousand mosaïc tiles,
Reaching for gold in the mire of defeat,
And treating the world as a comfortable seat.

These are the multitudes of which you were made,
These are the chapters of life that were played.
The universe loves you, so never forget...
It's the rain in your head that makes your brain wet.

morganna said...

It's the moment we've all been waiting for . . . Emily's after-supper conversation with her mother.
Emily followed her mother into her private sitting room. "Sit down, dear, her mother said, easing herself into one of the fireside armchairs. Emily sat down warily in the the matching chair.

"Samantha, dear, you're probably wondering what's going on. Or should I call you Jane? Or Emily? Which one are you using nowadays?" Emily quailed under her mother's sharp gaze.

"Really, Mother, I don't know what you're talking about."

"Oh, Samantha, do you take me for a fool? I know all about what you've been up to." And she proceeded to detail all of Emily's criminal escapades since leaving home ten years before.

The only thing she didn't seem to know was where Emily had been immediately before coming home. Emily sighed in relief that her mother didn't know all her business and hidey-holes, then sat up in outrage as her mother's words sank in. How did Mother know so much of her private business?

"Mother, tell me. How do you know so much of what I've been doing?"

Lady Pultney frowned. "I suppose I have to tell you now. The truth is, dear, that I keep this household going not on the residual money from your father's Indian holdings. In fact, there are no lands or estates in India. The money comes from my criminal empire.

"All the contacts you made over the years, from fences to corrupt policemen, they were either my people or approved by my people."

"But Mother, you were so angry when I left home."

"I did feel, darling, that fifteen was a little young to begin a life of crime. And besides, how could I find out if you have what it takes if you knew Mummy would rescue you?"

Emily stared at her mother, her universe shaken to its core.

Lady Pultney shook her head briskly. "No matter, darling. Now you know, and there are urgent matters facing us. My arch-rivals have finally figured out who you are, and they want to capture you, force you to join them, and take over the world. We must stop them."

"So all the weird things that have been happening lately . . . that's their doing?"


"They got Chris, you know."

"Do you love him?"

"I don't know, but he's the father of this one," Emily said, gesturing at her baby.

"Then we'd better get him back, too, hadn't we?"

"Isn't he . . . dead?"

"Your young man is far more resourceful than even I had imagined, dear. He's safe, but we can't reach him just yet. There are . . . complicating factors."

morganna said...

baby = belly (sorry about the typo at the end)

Marc said...

Greg - that is a lovely poem leading up to a final line that caught me quite off guard :)

I think it might be one of my favorite of yours!

Morganna - ah the big reveal, and quite worth waiting for! Intriguing, intriguing, intriguing...