Exploring Other Roads

Monday Morning Musings:

“We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics. Nor all logic. But is somewhat beauty & poetry.

–Astronomer Maria Mitchell (1818-1889

“In the middle of the journey of our life

I found myself astray in a dark wood

where the straight road had been lost sight of.”

–Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Inferno, Canto I



“This image of Saturn’s rings was taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on Sept. 13, 2017. It is among the last images Cassini sent back to Earth.”


This wild, verdant world

home, a pale blue dot

it travels,

we travel,

through time and space

never a straight road

explorers, we send you out

on a thirty-year mission

(here, bombs and missiles)

there, you meet your fiery death.

Did you have last thoughts, I wonder,

as you plunged

compelled by forces beyond your control

mission completed

no more floating tin can

our eyes and ears

seeing what we cannot see


what if you could speak your mind–

would you share our wonder, or

cry at the beauty of the rings of ice?

The eye of the beholder,

the hard problem and reality,

what do we actually perceive

(with our limited senses)

And yet

And yet

And yet–

we have music, art, poetry

the imagination to see beyond

to wonder if there are ghosts flitting around us

and what it is we cannot see


We, who are constantly seeking

asking who we are

and what is out there

(the truth?)

yet so limited by greed, ignorance, fear.

the artificial borders of nations

when the world dies,

will it matter that we are American, Russian, or Thai?

or that we believe in one god, many, or none?

that our skin is olive-tinged, milky-white, or the color of café au lait?

We follow straight roads to disaster

when perhaps we should try a different path—

a scenic route

create a new map


We eat pita and hummus

Vietnamese takeout

homemade pizza

multicultural dining

in a xenophobic world

admire the science and math—

dough that rises—a chemical reaction—

but the first time someone made bread—imagination!

Could a space alien creature appreciate the perfection–

melted cheese, tomatoes, basil, and crisp crust?

We drink wine,

admire the color, taste smell

created by another chemical reaction,

We watch science fiction

and imagine what could be,

perhaps better, perhaps not,

(oh, but we could use those Star Trek captains)

perhaps there are other timelines and dimensions,

worlds we cannot see,

Cassini has traveled—not a straight road—

to see rings and moons

a wonder of science and determination

But I see the beauty of those rings,

imagine how they might sing


I read and write

about the terrible things people do to one another

dominating bodies, looking for control

we watch a documentary about Vietnam

fights over territory

nations looking to control

the falling of dominos

in senseless violence

bombs, death, and destruction

time going backwards in film

filled in by imagination,

fast forward

and where does the road lead?

look at the science

look at the logic

look at the road

and check for a course correction–


look for the poetry and art

the beauty in the stars

listen for the humming of the moon




18 thoughts on “Exploring Other Roads

  1. So true: “when the world dies, / will it matter that we are American, Russian, or Thai?” Those lines struck at my heart.
    And there is so much beauty and poetry in science. When I looked up in the sky and saw the Total Solar Eclipse last month, all I could think was how beautiful it was. It took my breath away, tightened my throat, made my eyes weep. It would take a poet to describe the experience.

  2. When the world dies, I don’t suppose much of what some think is important (or not important) will matter at all. I love your humming moon. It’s beautiful, and looks almost like a painting. Your food images have made my hungry (yet again!). I marvel at your talent to come up with such beauty in your prose and poetry and images while working with such brutal subject matter. ♥

  3. I like the inspiring words of Maria Mitchell. Science is often discovery and making choices, ones that lead off into the “wild blue yonder.” The discovery of pita, hummus and the rising of bread with yeast all seem like a fun experiment. . . I wonder if it is ever taught with the poetic visions you give us? 🌺 smiles and hugs, Merril!

  4. Those Cassini photos are indeed heart-stopping. I keep going back to look at them.
    I love the change of perspective here, far away imagination working overtime, to the little details that make a life. If only we could see the larger picture in the small…(K)

  5. It takes a heart of ice not to be moved by your intrinsic musings. Then, of course, I moved in even closer as you delved into food, and your mouth-watering pizza. It’s true, if what we eat, is who we are, then are we not all Chinese, Mexican, Italian, etc? All parts of each other; united in sustenance. Outstanding post yet again, Merril — heaps and heaps of intriguing bits to ponder. I won’t sleep tonight. Haha! Kidding but not really. 😆 😫

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