The Law of Orbits

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While the title references Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, this poem was written about stargazing with an Astronomer/ Stellar Astrobiologist who worked on exoplanet data from the Kepler program. It explores the romance of not just stargazing itself, but in finding our place in the universe.



The Law of Orbits


When Michael tells me

It’s Cygnus, marking the Northern Cross

And four thousand chances

To know we are not alone

His dinner plate-sized hands

Tracing the swan’s neck

As she drifts in milky-way clouds

Sending ripples to our little shore

On the cosmic sea

The blue-pink horizon beyond

Competes with heart-glow

Warming my skin in the night air


We lament the city’s brilliance

It dares us to strain our eyes

Though radiant,

It and a waning gibbous moon

Drown the distant glimmer

Of so many constellations,

And the faint worlds Kepler gave us

The ultimate lottery

A phosphorescent roulette

Lit by ancient suns

Hiding older secrets

Every one of us has longed,

And dared to know


I am not confounded by the not-knowing,

Or the torrent of inquiry

Provoked by each of

Four thousand chances

To know we are not alone


An intoxicating thrill

Bested only by the heat

From those high-voltage dinner plate hands

Which could draw down the moon

And vault my heart across heaven


I need no looking-glass

Into a remote, cosmic beyond

With yesterday’s myths

Or tomorrow’s mystery

And I don’t absolutely have to know

If one in four thousand

Give us good odds

For winning that stellar fortune


That is a boundless search

In the eternal oneness

And great infinite all-that-ever-was-or-will-be

Not unlike my own voyage,

A quest to discover

The terminal certainty

That in my heart-glow

Under blue-green twilight

And faraway planets

Glinting whispers of bewitching enigma

Beside the mystical Pleiades

Who play a celestial game of charades


I have endeavored

Orderly, wildly,

Passionately, painstakingly,

In deliberate crusade

Not to know that we creatures

Are not so alone

But that I,

As this singular Earth

In the empyrean deep

As the brothers Gemini

Or Leda and Zeus,

I, too, belong

To an exquisite mate

Among the immortal,

Sublime cosmic sea

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