1601 c/o Chris Taylor

Johannes, remember:

I will go, and you will estimate the swiftness of my passing. You have the means to do so: the numbers and the quadrants, the maps of the universe circling our wives’ throats with gold.

You must decide for yourself the shape and nature of it.

I do not miss the smell of autumn ambling toward me. I do not miss my father or the enfolding shorelines of that first observatory. When I die, let the shadow of the moon wheel along my face slow enough to measure.

Yes, we will falter in our orbits. Retrace our footsteps. Err predictably.

It’s true that my only friends all had that dizziness. The elk, staggering to his four-toed death. The dwarf, spinning our dinner plates under the table.

It’s true my eyes could judge your worth to the minute. If you are heavy, mercury. If you are light, the cube between Saturn and Jupiter.

But now I grow confused. This fever hurtles through me, neither uniform nor circular.

Listen! In China, the first white man is entering the home of the Emperor. The gold bricks are learning psalms from his footsteps.

Listen! In Russia, two million people are about to die. Their bones will rub together but make no music.

The air is full of ash this year. My sight becomes brittle as crystal. And so cold.

Remember, Johannes, these spheres are pitted. Imperfect. We will pass back and forth between them like missionaries.

No, Johannes. Like comets.