Wait for the Light
Entry for 2017-10-11


Ladies and gentlemen,
please keep your places in line.
There's an eight minute wait for light
from the sun. We must all take turns.
There will be enough light for everyone;
don't crowd, follow the signs

While you are standing by,
in the absence of light you're free
to amuse yourselves, unobserved,
or each other, or watch the show:
in the Crab Nebula, if our charts
are right, a pulsar will undergo
a star quake tonight

Six thousand years ago,
long before Ptolemy, Ramses,
Tut, in fact before Ra,
light left the Crab with news
of a quake (we predict) and, lo
it is almost here, now passing
the sun at the speed of light.
In another eight minutes or so
it will interdict the path
of earth through night

Now folks, be patient, please.
The sun never knows when it's noon.
We do. Everything's closely timed:
waves from the lunar seas arrive
in a second or two, then merge
with others that left long since
from stars, clouds, bursts,
all to converge like spokes
at precisely the place you stand
and, brilliantly, all at once

Wait in the shade of earth.
Clearly, the days take turns.
Ninety-three million miles away
our fire burns; everything's fine.
You needn't search for origins,
nor travel to parts unknown;
no, it's nearly time for light
from the sun, and when that comes
you can tear up your charts.
An eight minute wait, a flash,
and all of the lights go out
except your own