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What is “Dark Matter?”
No one’s ever been able to catch any
in a quart canning jar, as we did as kids
in the summer nights with lightening bugs.

As nearly as my math-less writer’s brain can tell,
it is the power of something unseen, deduced only
by observed gravitational effects on stars, on galaxies.

Something very big, but still a guess, in other words.
Subject to experimentation. Grants. Scholarly papers.

Astrophysicists say this is important, which may be true;
I also suspect sometimes they’ve been smoking weed up
there on the high, cold mountain outside the
telescope house, huddled around campfires,
telling math jokes and giggling, high as fuck.

I think it’s simpler than they say, though.
I lay out in the grass one night this summer and
let my eyes get used to the dark so the stars
would come out of hiding.

God, the universe is amazing when you really look
longingly into her face.

Each alien pinprick—of unimaginable power and distance—
is surrounded by blackness, seemingly empty.
But I imagine tiny columns of light from those stars
paint my retinas, my body, the entire Earth and
Sweep across the landscape, touching everything,
as the Earth turns beneath them.

Maybe there are also shafts of darkness,
shaped like the space between the stars,
rolling across us like the stars’ light,
pulling with the gravity of nothingness,
shaping a contrast so vast,
so deep and dark and cold, that we are constantly bathed
in the paradoxes of existence,
in darkness and light,
where our lives are
affected by the seen and the unseen,
quite without us realizing we’re being moved,
a bit like those giant galaxies being shoved around
by the invisible hand of Dark Matter to an unknown future.

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