The Hubble Telescope and the Wild Mustang

by Britton Gildersleeve


What does it mean, that the universe is growing larger, faster?
Unlike my life, which seems to be slowing, even as it thickens
and grows larger, my own frail body a metaphor for dreams
and hopes and what I thought I’d be when I grew up.

The universe is growing up? Is that it? Or does knowledge
race ahead, like a horse unreined, a mustang from
the auction at Vian, born onto flat grassland to stretch
long legs, lengthen and lay belly against bluestem
and run. Perhaps the universe is a mustang, going
nowhere special, the point only speed and the journey through it.
How sky spreads like a canopy above you, endless and blue
and wind carries you almost up, almost above the sharp grass.

If the universe is growing faster, moving like water to the edge
of the bucket, as you twirl it around your own body, then perhaps
I am not slowing down. Perhaps age is simply the acceleration
of muons and other unknowable particles. The way
you cannot measure love, or fear, or calculate the path that war
will cut across belief. But somewhere, at the edge of what we know,
if I only travel fast and far enough, there might be knowledge.
Like a wild mustang, breathing hard.

Originally published in This Land, Vol. 5, Issue 13, July 1, 2014.