first prize, The Mirehouse Poetry Competition,
The brightest star
Leavitt, 1868 – 1921
it because she can hear nothing that she strains her eyes
see the farthest stars? Her ears blur sound
her eyes look through the thirteen lenses
inside this telescope she’s invented;
eyes see all the known stars of the universe
she’s the one who starts recording them.
mind – the brightest one in Harvard, so they say –
out a way of knowing how far away
star is from the earth: by calculating brightness,
can measure distance. Because of this,
start to map out space: to calibrate
big the Milky Way is, how old the universe.
finds new stars – novae that suddenly
bright, then fade away. Cancer eclipses her.
the time they think of her for the Nobel, she’s dead.
they name a crater on the moon for her.
maps of galaxies go on and on expanding.
watching from a soundless place, light years ahead.
Scottish Poetry Library
Gift of Light",
"The Shortest Days",
"The Time of Gold",
book of Hopes and Dreams", bluechrome;
Second Light /