In a museum the other day I saw an orrery
from the time of Jefferson and Franklin.
It was very wrong.
Those tiny orbs arching out from the sun’s center
were not only disproportionate to each others relative size
but they were not even close to the correct order
of their relationship out from the sun that
we now know with great certainty.
Some orreries from those days and even ones made today
are clockworks and are driven by some engine which
makes them revolve in a scaled-down, sped-up,
miniature precision, as if to mirror nature.
Engines still drive us invisibly to orbit certainty,
peering in, gleaning all we can.
Engines, forged by a greater clockmaker,
drive the very stars themselves
and power us with our curiosity.
Every time I am reminded of our narrow view,
and note how much these
“Ages of Reason and Enlightenment”,
are at best in infancy, I stop to realize:
people, two hundred years from now,
will look at artifacts of our time,
as we look at the skull drills of surgeons in ancient Egypt,
the knives and trays of blood-letting barbers who practiced
from the middle ages through the eighteenth century,
and say, “How barbaric!”