"Past is prologue" here in our Featured Flashback section, and every week we feature a new selection from our archives that belongs in this very moment. As we March towards the equinox, we feature the poem "Love Letter to Galileo: Pendulum" by Stacey Balkun, from Issue 14: Invention and Discovery, published in 2017.
Love Letter to Galileo: Pendulum
By Stacey Balkun
What were you thinking when you looked up
to Christ in the bell tower—that brass lamp
suspended on a chain, its steady swing and slight pause
at each apex? It must have made no sense
with the charts and graphs spread across your drawing table,
data’s tick-tock flung between your ears, swooping
along your gray beard. Did you try to stop it?
Eppur si muove, did it move—of course—all the same?
Could you predict the church’s future swing
against you, even with hands busy penciling arcs
on graph paper? Could you predict the shackles
that would later bind your wrists, chain drooped
between the two trajectories, the amplitude
between your palms too great to be called prayer?