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Featured flashback

"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?

Flammarion Engraving.jpeg
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