We’re here to gather evidence, to find The DNA—or at least to lift the finger- prints of Deity. A treasure hunt With clues craftily concealed, but there Nevertheless. If clouds drifting dreamily Across the moon’s congested face won’t do, Or waves that threaten passion in the Higher sense, beyond a Category Five, make you shrug, consider numbers, Counting to infinity. Boot up Your Apple, and see how many zeroes it Can prophesy. Click a remote: note How mice, unwired, can still point To sites unmentioned in the manual. Divide three into ten, and claim eternity.
“It did what I wanted it to do,” said my sister of the carefully composed little book of old family photographs she’d arranged with sheer vellum slips between the pages, “so they could see through to the old faces, maybe circle them, write things, mostly gather round close and remember because the book is small.” Their knees would almost have to touch.
Hubble pockets light years, eons, sees eye to eye with dust, a small drop of water. NASA’s robot stalks tiptoe, a cat’s paw on the prowl to report if there is life, beeps back a monument of stone and ice, an unresponsive mountain in orbit. Delicate antennae translate the laws of physics into a mourner’s sigh.
But the frozen droplet, like the sea to a drowning man, whirls its rueful hoard of thanks deferred, of love unvoiced, the pleas of miracles before the eyes, the mystery of the heart, the mind’s Post-it notes: Praise the Lord, Carpe Diem and Memento Mori.
No one understood my nightly need to be reassured I’d wake up again the next day. Eyes closed, I saw no sheep but the tufts of pampas grass looming silver like a solitary path. The scroll hung above me, a verse in five and seven, its flowing hand thin and illegible—I still knew it was about our life not lasting very long. How is it that adults were okay with such a prospect? In July, bamboo blades rustled against paper cranes and prayer strips; I wondered how I’d made the cut, when I wasn’t a boy my father wanted, wasn’t a koi princess my mother said would magically turn her tail into a pair of legs. I looked for the fabled rabbits on the moon, a family of them taking turns to pound rice into pearly cakes along their dark, elliptical orbit.
A copy of the Bay Psalm Book, the first book published in America, will be auctioned off by Sotheby’s and is expected to bring between $15 and $30 million, making it the most expensive book ever sold. One of two copies owned by Old South Church in Boston, it is one of only 11 remaining copies published. The proceeds will be used to help replenish Old South’s endowment once $7 million of it is used for deferred maintenance. The church historian resigned over the congregation’s decision to sell one of its treasures, but the rest of the congregation overwhelmingly supported the decision (New York Times, November 15).