Emily Strauss

The Virgo Collaboration


…scientists announced that they had heard and recorded the sound of two black holes colliding a billion light-years away…the first direct evidence of gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of space-time that Einstein predicted a century ago…vibrated a pair of antennasĀ in Washington State and Louisiana…

–New York Times, 2/11/16



The second largest constellation, a maiden

holding a grain of wheat, the bright star

Spica, and the binary star Porrima, goddess

of the future, sister of Postverta:


Virgo, goddess of purity, of the Virginid

showers, last of the ancient ones to live

with humans in the Silver Age, the other

immortals fled the wickedness of our iron


ascended to heaven where time space warped,

a disturbance in the cosmos formed waves

spreading outward, a collision of neutron

stars producing gamma rays like sound


moving sideways. Milton wrote that God

hung his golden scales between Astraea,

this innocent maiden and the Scorpion

and weighed the Earth and Air, pondered


our battles and realms. Now the receptors

have vibrated, our place in the universe

altered forever, science reveals us as small

creatures unattuned to cosmic disturbances,


this pure energy, reality’s deepest register,

the resulting black hole an exit door

of the universe where anything that passes

can never return, as the gods abandoned us


to our iron battles, our astral light as they

receded to eternal darkness, gravity waves

still not come ashore, Virgo still hanging

across our sky with her one bright star.


Emily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry, which she has written since college. Over 300 of her poems appear in a wide variety of online venues and in anthologies, in the U.S. and abroad. She is both a Best of the Net and Pushcart nominee. The natural world of the American West is generally her framework; she also considers the narratives of people and places around her. She is a semi-retired teacher living in California.

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