The astronomer rips off her glasses, tosses them onto her workbench
and closes her eyes to force the thousands of pinpricks of light she can't really see
to manifest from the dot-matrix printouts scattered around her like the
remnants of a ticker-tape parade for creatures much bigger than her,
and waits for the numbers to coalesce into something beautiful.
She's been scanning the same distant corner of the night sky for six months
because she knows, she just knows that there's something there.
There has to be something there because the math is wrong;
a radiative fluctuation with no perceived cause has been poking at her brain,
a flashlight with dying batteries shined in her direction from eighty light-years away.
Tomorrow she'll put in a request for another hour of telescope time,
crank the massive array a fraction of a degree to the west and try again,
with fresh coffee and newly-sharpened pencils and Aphex Twin on the stereo.
The poet steps out onto his roof and looks up through the city haze at pinpricks of light
he can't really see, and lights a cigarette and closes his eyes and takes comfort in believing
that what he suddenly sees will be proved, some day, by scientists with pencils in their hair.