Strange now to think of single cells
splitting, in that airy room
at the top of the stairs.
How later, words dripped away
in a single day and we laboured
to pronounce place names on a map of home.
We split the photos, the phantom booties,
one blue, one pink -
and never spoke of things again.
He said he would only see it once
then traced an ellipse in the sand,
but we, being young, might chance
to see it twice in our lifetime.
The night he looked up,
the cloud was thick, the climb
concealed. The comet nears the sun,
warms, begins to sublimate,
the volatile compounds transform.
Gas radiates around the nucleus,
dust particles scatter ice
and solar light goes nebulous.
I dream her into the sky –
a brilliant apparition,
and see close-up the ink-dyed
surface, the varied topography
of mountains and craters,
commit her ridges to memory.
Space pulls her ions out into a tail
as she moves to her perihelion
beyond the moon; the chaotic trail
of a retrograde orbit almost done.
The sum of her travels mapped, predictions
made, for late July, twenty sixty-one.