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Picture 10801942, engraving, image copyright Mary Evans / Photo Researchers

Minding the Heavens
by Mary Anne Smith Sellen


Caroline Herschel, to her brother William
Note: Caroline and William Herschel have both had lunar craters named after them.


I sit on the ridge of the Mare Imbrium
from where I gaze into the void
with my good right eye, on the lid
of the Moon-Man’s own.

And you scan the sky from just north of Ptolomaeus,
at the midpoint of Gylden and Flammarion,
linked to me through twin lines in the dust.

Our celestial lives not so different
to corporeal: eccentric, inclined to argument,
and ascending to the absolute magnitude
of what can be achieved.

This closeness could be mapped
from when you taught me first to sing.
And when your interests then turned
from your scores to the skies,
so mine would turn, slowly, too. Soon,

I’d spend my nights in sparkling gardens,
capturing the celestial in the clasp of a mirrored curve.
By day I’d be rewriting the order of the stars,
minding both the heavens, and our home.

All those years when we swept the zenith,
chasing after nebulae and comets’ blazing trails,
we two were closer than double stars.

And so we are now, us sky-written siblings,
as we tilt and spin in allegro ellipses, united
in our search for the minutest glimpse of Earth.


© Mary Anne Smith Sellen
Picture 10801942, engraving, image copyright Mary Evans / Photo Researchers


Mary Anne Smith Sellen’s work has been recognised in both national and international competitions, including first prizes in O’Bheal Five Words and Sentinel Literary Quarterly, also widely anthologised. She is currently working towards her first collection, themed around the lives of writers, artists, musicians and, occasionally, scientists! She recently had two poetry collages accepted for an exhibition at Sissinghurst Castle, following a return to painting after a long break. She regularly reads at events and literary festivals in Kent and is in the process of setting up a blog. Facebook: @maryannesmithsellenpoet


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