The Hubble Cantos
By Tree Riesener
Aldrich. 90 pp. $17
This book is a Nantucket sleigh ride through the universe. Ambitious, funny, fearless, The Hubble Cantos shows us why we need poetry as well as science.
With humor, wonder, and openness to the craziness of it all, Bryn Mawr's Tree Riesener creates a poetic counterpoint to the wonder-show of the Hubble Telescope.
"eden between the stars" addresses the Maker of Worlds:
just how many edens are you thinking of building . . .
you'll have to leave it all on the back porch . . .
I'm not going to have it cluttering up my kitchen
There's also unbound wonder, as in the gigantic closer, "song of the perseus black hole":
the black hole is singing in the dark
our bones hear it
been hearing it a long long time
our cells our protoplasm our dna
reverberate to that note
maybe that's god
been trying to catch our attention for a billion billion years
and only prophets on a clear night
have ever got even a
hint of the message
listen those who have ears let them hear
the black hole is singing
b flat fifty-seven octaves below middle c
The cosmos does not make our sense: "After the hurricane / sweeps away puppies and old men / the sky is clear and blue / tender in its clarity." Yet Riesener's universe is not an emptiness but a fertile giving-forth that science, in its spectacular success, can't quite reach. Nah, we need poetry, as in "butterfly and other nebulae":
your dark nebular body
could be called
a mass exchanging binary system
but the real you is lovecraftian
a shifting translucent body
of burning expanding wings
flapping at two hundred miles per second.
Like Hubble, Riesener is showing us the neighborhood as never before.