Atlas

Who held up the universe before you,

dear Atlas?

My sources indicate

(although my ancient Greek is rusty)

that there was first a

 

chasm

 

called Chaos,

and then space tidaled into its edges,

a chemical reaction born out of Hesiod's alchemy lab:

Aetherian light + Erebus darkness → Ouranos2 sky,

a prototype of the mighty columns.

Alas, primordial politics as chemical by-products sput-

tered into the Titan War,

and you,

defeated,

were doomed to spread yourself like a mattress under

the petticoat vortex.

 

Did you invent astronomy on a lonely night?

When the mathematicians were fiddling with formulas

that theorized our existence,

did you awaken Cassiopeia and Orion

from their dim slumber?

Was it you who batted that blazing beachball

into the center of the universe,

just to lead Copernicus and the Medievals astray?

To diversify into motion and velocity,

did you whisper Galileo into the dreams of Kepler and Hubble?

Sailing through pages of proportions,

Mercator was kind to emboss your name—

Atlas—

onto collections to come.

 

You have stretched your arms

for

c e n t u r i e s

beneath toasty stars and hefty planets,

even when golden apples rolled before you like coins.

On a lonely night, I look up

into the whirling cosmos,

where, atop your shoulders,

Aion first lamented the Muses,

and wonder,

what holds up our universe now?

1606_Mercator_Hondius_Map_of_the_Arctic_
Atlas Comic.png
images.png