Merak & Dubhe

corn field

The first time the boy was completely amazed by the cosmos he was reading a Golden Book guidebook to the stars and constellations. In it were two small pictures, illustrations: one, of the Milky Way now, and one of the Milky Way in 4.5 billion years. In the former, the well-recognized ladle formed by its seven stars (two of them pointing far away to locate elsewhere the North Star) was as easily recognizable as it was shiningly self-evident in the clear, summer, Canadian sky at night where, in the middle of a lake in a small, aluminum-hulled boat with the puttering outboard motor turned off, he watched the Perseid meteor shower in August with his father and brother. In the latter, however, the form was completely distorted. It was not merely twisted out of shape, like the handle of a spoon that has been bent between two strong hands. It was no longer the thing it was. This sad fact had struck him particularly then, beyond the undoing of innocent understanding of stars as static points in space. Everything was adrift. The principles of the Universe itself were subject to undoing. Nothing was permanent. Not even outer space and the things in it would stay the same, and everything we knew, he saw, would be gone. Everything, he saw, would eventually be lost.

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