Smart people once decided
the ways we measure things here are just not relevant
once you get far enough from earth.
So, recognizing the nightmare of charting the stars in yards or football fields, they said,
we’ll take the distance from the earth to the sun,
and call it one astronomical unit,
and then the numbers won’t be ridiculous anymore.
They believed in size. And comparisons.
I imagine they believed one thing had to be bigger than the other.
That mass is permanent.
I have 2 objections off the top of my head:
- Jupiter doesn’t look like it’s made of basically nothing and
- Your hand has always looked bigger than the sun, of course.
But they wouldn’t have cared.
The ways I used to measure things are just not relevant to the current moment,
So I’ll just say, home is like four hundred Palo Altos, give or take twenty.
A conversation is at least a dozen frat parties.
I’ll say a poem is two thousand greetings
And the average icebreaker game is two hundredths of a you.
The average Friday night date is maybe a twelfth of a you.
And since you, there’s never been a full you, so I guess this isn’t really a functional unit
and I resent that the act of measurement has to be so relative
because the scientists behind the astronomical unit had the luxury of choosing which unit is most convenient,
and I don’t.
In 1977, NASA launched Voyager and mounted a golden record titled “the sounds of earth”,
including wind, thunder, footsteps, and greetings in 55 different languages.
If I made this record myself, of course I would want there to be sounds of love,
Which would be sounds of you,
And I guess if intelligent extraterrestrial life does exist,
And they come upon my golden record,
They would end up thinking all humans are like you and me.
Like every single person on this planet could spend entire afternoons just watching rain drop from the edge of a balcony
And every single person here is writing to rebel.
We would have successfully made ourselves the unit upon which our species is measured,
And in this moment, the audible ghost of us is on repeat on a golden plate eleven billion miles away,
Or 118 astronomical units,
Or a year and a half,
I think about how if I was floating in space and someone was getting further and further away from me, there would be no way to tell if I’m moving away from them or if they’re moving away from me or if they’re actually moving towards me and I’m just moving away faster.
Left with nothing to anchor ourselves to,
All that would matter is how the distance grows,
the going, going, gone,
the rain, rain, flood,
the blink, blink, black.
I can’t tell whether the average date is a twelfth of you
Or if the idea of you has just multiplied in my head
And it’s entertaining to wonder, if one day the distance between the sun and the earth just changed, I mean how many calculations would that fuck up,
But I try not to think about how the system of my relativities is constantly dying and coming back as something else.