Lick Observatory, Mt. Hamilton, Cal. after Edison Studios' 1897 short film
Here, for the first time since Galileo, five years before the studio staged this early September carriage ride, we found another moon in orbit around Jupiter. Here, the promise of the lens, of the eye augmented with the finest glass that money can polish, compels the astronomers working somewhere beneath that great glass dome to stretch themselves further and further through the cosmos. Whatever stars their eyes are now absorbing, we see none of that light. Why does Earth appear so stark in this footage? The horses pulling the carriage lose their bodies in the carriage, itself swallowed by the walls of the observatory, a single mass of formless shadow. By contrast, the skies have melted away the glass, like ice shavings dropped into tepid water. Then, before the visitors can enter, the last frame vanishes, putting on full display the deepest realms of space, as though the difference between seeing everything in the observable universe and seeing literally nothing is solely in the language. Neither a telescope nor a camera can bring us any additional clarity.
-- Michael Mingo is a poet and medical editor currently living in northwest New Jersey. He earned his MFA in poetry from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars. His work has appeared in Spillway, The McNeese Review, Third Coast, and Valparaiso Poetry Review, among other journals.