Heavenly Bodies Along the Rail

By Sharon Olson


Einstein asked permission from Hale to use his telescope—he wanted
to measure how starlight bends around the sun during the day.

Hale told him to wait two years until the next eclipse, so he worked on
the theory of relativity instead, took him just about that much time.

The Norman ladies-in-waiting worked Halley’s Comet into the Bayeux Tapestry,
the fireball pointing to Harold’s doom, a spear hanging like a tear from his eye.


Clutching her work bag, a librarian hurried to her knitting circle, stumbled
on the stairs, inadvertently pushing one of the needles into her chest.

It didn’t feel like the thrust of Santa Teresa, no ecstasy, more like troubled breathing.
Naturally they wanted to pull the knitting needle out, but she told everyone to back off—

even the paramedics. It was her ER training, all those episodes she had watched
on TV. And right she was, the doctors said, closing up her aorta just in time.


Light from the stars bends, I guess, just before it enters our line of sight.
Just as colors are mixed in the prism, angles of light, no such thing as dye.

The horses fly around the last turn at the track, our eyes seeking out the colors
of the silks, which don’t exist but as tricks of the light, bending our way.

The jockeys are hurrying, the ladies are waiting, the Normans are annihilating
the Anglo-Saxons, and Einstein patiently figures out the angles, locking in the odds.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 12. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Sharon Olson, a retired librarian, lives in Guilford, Connecticut. Her book The Long Night of Flying (Sixteen Rivers Press) was published in 2006.

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