Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Problem of Magnification

by Robin Becker

Today after class, my student explains to me
how he and his roommate plan to trap
history between two enormous mirrors they will install
in space. He is particularly interested in South American countries,
wooden boats circumnavigating the globe.
Kindly, my student instructs me in the development
of laser technology, he persuades me with heroic accounts
of electromagnetic radiation, fabulous as any resurrection.
History, he says, is all matter,
and matter cannot be destroyed. A lasso of light sparks
from his chalky fingers as he describes the problem of magnification.
Today you would lose the fine hairs on Magellan's arms,
the grain in the wood of his mast. Soon, he assures me, technicians
will perfect the lens, the light will refract,
and the boys will see the trees of Tierra del Fuego
as they appeared to the Portuguese commander.
Tonight my student and his roommate elucidate the elegant equations.
Their dormitory room is a planetarium
of faith, earth a lonely place, miles from anywhere
a penciled circle on the small schematic diagram.

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