Astropoetica: Mapping the Stars through Poetry

In Which I Call Upon Tycho Brahe

Tell them about your pet moose
that got so drunk
it fell down the stairs at your party
and broke its foreleg.

Tell them about the instruments.
Tell them about the nights you stood with chin
pointing to the heavens and lips
quietly mouthing the positions of the stars.
Tell them the stars are not just stars.
The heavens, neither perfect nor immutable.

Tell them about your nose, sliced off in a duel,
and how you covered the windy hole in your face
with a brass replica, lashed it to your head
with leather straps. Kept it,
and the twitching raw skin beneath,
well greased.

Tell them about the commoner
you refused to actually marry,
though she gave you 8 children
and wore the keys to your castle on her belt.
Tell them at their death stars, too, do not go quiet;
they are as furious and destructive as drunken men of means;
they all fall in on themselves.

Tell them how you taught a generation to see.
Tell them two good eyes were all you needed to chart the heavens,
and for everything else, there was your psychic midget named Jep.
Tell them the answers are there, in the charts.

Tell them how you passed on those charts like Pandora.
Like, what now?
Like the boy Kepler could be anything other than what history needed.
Tell them those ellipses were drawn from his gaping mouth.
Tell them you were for Kepler,
as Kepler was for Galileo,
and how he cracked open the head of a God
by smashing it against the sky.

Tell them how you loved a good party.
Tell them how the wild and ethereal world
is always in attendance.


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The structure of the cosmos as described by Tycho Brahe

Credit: Harmonia macrocosmica, by Andreas Cellarius
Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division

Emily Kagan Trenchard is interested in the intersections of science and society, metaphor and fact. This interest drives her work as the Director of Technology for the Digital Strategy Division of North Shore-LIJ Health System in New York. She has a Masterís degree in Science Writing from MIT and spends her spare time trying to make sense of the infinitely complicated world through writing, design and new technology.

Emilyís poetry, essays and articles have appeared in places such as ABCNews.com, JMWW, The Nervous Breakdown, Ragazine, and Muzzle. Emily received an honorable mention in Rattleís 2009 Poetry Prize, and a Pushcart Prize nomination in 2011. She has been a featured writer and performer at numerous reading series and universities across the country, and was a part of Def Poetry Jamís seasons 3 and 4. She currently serves on the poetry advisory board of Narrateur, a literary journal devoted to narrative medicine.

Emily lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children.