The Library of Maps, #34
(for Rose Hacker, upon my departure for Hiroshima and Kyoto)

The Night Sky
That night
He had been told
Of studies
Prophesizing the future demise of
The already-faint atmosphere of the planet.

“Only twenty years,”
His friend had announced,
In a somewhat triumphant tone.

Gazing up at the night sky,
The Astronomer thought of the soon-to-be-invisible Pluto
And of its moon Charon,
And imagined
Charon and his ferry
Taking the dead to Hades.

That night, too,
He brooded
Upon his own death,
While unbeknownst to him
The first night rose
Bloomed in the nearby newly planted garden
Of the Old Observatory.

The Night Garden
In the Night Garden
Of the Old Observatory,
Rose upon rose bloomed
As the Astronomer began to make
His daily visits
To the Garden.

At first,
He merely sat
On a bench,
Looking at the stars,
But later,
He brought with him
A small telescope,
One that he had used as a child.

It was in this old telescope,
Twenty years later,
That he caught the last glimpses
Of Pluto
And its moon, Charon.

In her Mirror,
The Chief Librarian also
Saw the planet and its moon
As she sat in the Library of Maps
Smelling from afar
The roses
In the Night Garden.

by Moira Roth
Written 7/30–8/02/02