The Truth about Black Holes
My son read somewhere on
The internet that a giant black
Hole is hurtling through space
Hoovering up everything in its path.
He’d read that it’s approaching Earth
And if we fall into its trap
It will be a fate worse than death.
You can imagine his distress:
Entombed in a silent lightless
Awareness without the passage
Of time, like being buried alive,
Only paralyzed and blind.
I told him black holes certainly exist
But they generally don’t move.
They don't wander through
The vast universe picking
Off planets and moons
Like frogs lopping up flies.
They don't have to.
They lie in wait
In the centers of galaxies
With an arrogant knowing
That all things inevitably return.
They don't have to seek anything out.
I told him about vertigo,
How sometimes we can’t help but fall
When we spend such time teetering
On the verges of so many brinks.
Sometimes they’re closer than we think.
Anywhere there is absence or loss.
Every single empty space.
All that disappeared time,
Where do you think it all goes?
You're old enough to know this now.
In time you’ll learn to recognize
Where all the smaller ones are
And put them to good use.
Your broken heart,
Your stifled dreams,
Silly iterations of self,
Unreturned calls from beautiful girls,
Unreturned calls from plain, but clever, girls,
Vain failures, every last wasted effort.
All the things that hardly weigh anything at all.
But you won’t ever let them
Suck the true heart of you in.
You’ll stand your ground
And bide your time.
Sooner or later, one will arrive
Perfectly suited to your mass and size,
With a gravitational pull stronger
Than anything you could conquer.
And anyway, when it’s here
Standing will no longer be an option
For the ground is already gone.
And then you’re spinning and spinning
In complicated geometrical
Patterns, spiraling down
Down, down, ever down
To the very bottom of an infinite pit
Where language is insufficient to describe
A mass so dense not even
Light or sound could survive.
Words don’t stand a chance.
Maybe gravity is God’s word for mercy.
A word for the force that always
Shows up just before the ground whisks away,
And guides your staggered, half-standing being
To a place that is perpetually missing,
Where the noon sun is always in eclipse,
Where darkness is neither color nor a comfort,
Where it’s fine to lie supine
On a bed of a thousand knives,
Where your heart-pounding terror
Is cocooned by the safe embrace of sleep.
Meanwhile, your dreams, being of mind alone,
Are wide awake
And eager to get on with it,
Unaffected, as they are,
By such forces of nature
And so they put on quite the show.
Watch boy, kick back and just watch
This flashing elongated looping distortion
Of vaguely familiar hallways and terrains,
Where everything is acceptably strange
And unmistakably real, dream real,
And all the unleashed spirits lift and soar,
Wafted by the westerlies of the ever forgiven.