Jim Fisher


Mount Wilson Observatory, 1929

His partner brings the plates down from Mt. Wilson.
Hubble does the math. The spectrographs
Of the scattered nebulae—his early passion—
Are shifted to the red. The partner laughs
As the astronomer smooths numbers
Tremoring across the page. If true
They mean measurements everywhere are skewed:
The nebulae are receding from view
At three thousand kilometers per second,
The rate greater than anything they'd reckoned.
Clusters further out move faster still.
Models implode, fulfilling the chill
In both mens' backs, with the understanding:
The universe, until then static, is expanding.




6 lines, 4 faces, 12 sides

I am understanding your secret, old shape,
Old enclosure, old riddle where space
Is contained, using a minimum of lines.

The trick is repetition. One must revisit
Each enclosure, each riddle where space
Is returned, given purpose, formed motion

Trapped in words. In repeating, the mind
Is contained, using a minimum of lines.
I am understanding your secret, old shape

Trapped in words, in repeating the mind.
The trick is repetition. One must revisit,
Be returned, given purpose, formed motion.






REDSHIFT: This is the latest in a series of sonnets which dramatize historical and conceptual moments of scientific discovery. Past subjects include x-rays, radioactivity, the first laboratory-induced nuclear chain reaction, star birth, and electromagnetism.

TETRAHEDRON: It was either this or a buckyball, the other molecular shape widely associated with R. Buckminster Fuller. I did the math and determined a poem called Buckyball would have 90 lines, 32 faces, and 180 sides. So I went with Tetrahedron.