His eyeball smokes a little
As the focused light of distant suns streaks through
The lenses and mirrors.
He has learned to compensate
By switching sides every minute
Blinking ash-motes like tears
And if visitors spy the little nebulosity
Attending the vampire astronomer
They think it a trick of mountain chill
His assistants know better,
They who surrender credit
On scientific papers,
More precious than blood.
(Nineteen asteroids bear his name,
Twelve nebulae, and a comet.)
They endure. For he is methodical,
Oblivious to cold and tedium, tireless
As any dream engine of Lovelace and Babbage
With eyes never fooled by Martian canals.
They endure, and trade blood and fame
For the secrets of the universe
And guard his sleep in the coffin amid
But they have whispered dark worries
He never voices in journals.
Why does the universe lurch
With the freight of mass unseen?
He fears he knows the answer
But speaks not of dark matter.
Best mortals never contemplate
What monstrous solar systems
Should lurk invisible to a telescope's lenses—
He keeps discoveries also from his kin,
Ever since the student made him
Flap terrified around the dome
By unveiling her handmade telescope
Blazing to his gaze like a crucifix.
He knows now in the proper hands
Both are implements of the Light
That circumscribes his movements,
Commands his career and sears
And he suspects it is not truly
Distance and the inverse-square law
That protects him from the
Glare of distant spheres, but a veil
Of perception. And were he to
Open his mind's eyes, see beyond
Gaslamps and almanacs and mirrors
He might behold a background radiation
Of Love—of which he is the dark reflection—
And in that moment burn, one with the suns.
But for now he peers and scribbles
And charts the dark frontiers
Anticipating no hero's reward
No constellation named for the vampire slain by