“The boundary between heaven and hell
cannot be seen until we cross over.
It is like an ‘event horizon’” this astronomer said.
“You can only know ‘across’ when your weight
falls on the other side.”
We traded jibes through sunset.
“There is only weight in hell” she began.
“There’s no gravity in heaven” I supposed.
“There is pure darkness in hell.”
“There is no shadow in heaven.”
“There are no windows in hell.”
“There are no mirrors in heaven.”
She focused into the Horsehead Nebula in the constellation Orion.
“It is 1,500 light years distant. Is hell there?”
We viewed a pink cloud of ionized gas defining the Horsehead.
“Maybe hell is where you are frozen in place,
shivering in blackness save distant stars,
always conscious on some icy moon
drifting forever in the Horsehead Nebula.”
Driving home before dawn, above whirring tires
Orion’s three stars began singing, dripping harmonies
on my windshield, watering my eyes.
Suddenly a sharp curve—no time to break, or blink—
Reading the news about yesterday’s visitor
plummeting like a comet off Mauna Kea’s road,
the astronomer thought “Dark as Orion’s eye”
before she keyed in the night’s viewing.