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I read some lines. Adrienne Rich, Paul Muldoon, Milosz. Nothing sticks in the brain’s oatmeal. The dryer buzzes. I open the door and hug the pile of warm socks, warm underwear, damp towels soaked in Tide. Then drop it all on my bed and pull the comforter over it, so the heap looks like the curve of someone’s body.

I wait.

I smell a chicken roasting, but can’t remember putting a chicken in the oven.

I write some sentences in first-person-present. They are pleasing to me, but they seem a little desperate, like, can’t I make something up? So I write fiction in the third person past:

Once, there was a watery planet called Yatoan Seven. It was in a galaxy that was ultimately destroyed when a nearby star collapsed into a black hole, consuming systems all around it in a cataclysmic event. But for a while, Yatoan Seven was the most beautiful place in the whole galaxy. And on Yatoan Seven, there lived a little girl named Maxine. Now, the Yatoans would have looked super gross to humans, but to the Yatoans humans would have looked super gross. So it was all about even. Maxine was one of the smartest and most competent of Yatoans. She studied to be an astronomer. Astronomy, for Yatoans, was quite different than it was for humans. Yatoans didn’t have eyes.

So they couldn’t look at the stars and say “my, how beautiful and inspiring.” In fact, they couldn’t look at anything. Blindness didn’t mean anything to them because no one had any eyes. But they could hear things very well. So astronomy meant listening really closely for sounds coming from very far away. And the Yatoans were great at this. The listened to the symphony of the universe far more closely than humans ever did. Maxine had a lovely career. She won many prestigious awards and ultimately found evidence of a very interesting planet far away from Yatoan Seven that looked like it had quite a bit of water on it. She could hear its oceans and its volcanoes, the wind through its trees. She wondered what it would be like to be there. She won the most important prize in physics on Yatoan Seven, and lived a long time before she died peacefully at the age of 200 Earth years.

Way later, a young professor named Patton Sebald, who got his PhD from the University of California-Irvine and who worked at the Very Large Array of telescopes in New Mexico was scanning the sky one night when he became the first human being to hear evidence of what was the supernova that had destroyed Yatoan Seven million of years before. He was alone in the lab when he heard the pulsing noise of the star dying. There was a bag of potato chips on his desk. And he marveled at the sad beauty of it and wondered what it had been like to live on the worlds there. What things smelled like and tasted like. What they sounded like and looked like. So far away. And so long ago.

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