Venus Retrograde

(Because its orbit is inside that of Earth, the direction of Venus's path across the sky appears to reverse itself when the planet is more or less directly between Earth and the sun. Observation of this anomaly was partly responsible for the complicated structure of epicycles in Ptolemaic astronomy. Even now at the end of the second millennium, some people believe there is significance to this motion.)

Compared to these orbits,
even with their eccentricities,
Ned's path is something random
and amazed. Then, pushed up
against these grinding ellipses,
enmazement has to be expected.
Not that Ned needs excuses.
It is always difficult to meet
the psychics' expectations
or get the cloudy windows
washed before it rains.
One alibi is, Ned has already
funneled through several lives.
Where next? The only future?
The answer, a friend told Ned,
lies not in telephone messages
or psychiatrists' notebooks,
but in old candlesticks,
childhood photographs
and obsolete bestsellers,
packed away in attics
for the next tenants to discover.

Larry Mallory

This photograph was created with support to Space Telescope Science Institute, operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., from NASA contract NAS5-26555 and is reproduced with permission from AURA/STScI. Digital renditions of images produced by AURA/STScI are obtainable royalty-free at

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