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    technical illustration of the distance of the sun, moon and planets

    Poem: “Argument of Periapsis”

    By Midge Goldberg

    February 17, 2024

    This poem was a finalist for Plough’s 2023 Rhina Espaillat Poetry Award.

    The angle between the ascending node of an orbiting body and its periapsis, the point at which it is closest to the gravitational center of another body, measured in the direction of orbital motion. —Dr. Alice Gorman

    We argued again today. This time? It might
    have been a pot unwashed, or trash day missed—
    I can’t remember—a stupid, pointless fight
    as if controlled by some ventriloquist.

    Slam door, start car, and leave, radio blaring.
    On the highway, I head north, nowhere to go
    but through the night sky, muttering and swearing.
    I drive too fast to the next exit, then slow

    and circle back.
    Just barely healed, we’re shy,
    quiet and tentative, making our way
    together. Is there sound in space? We try
    saying what we really mean to say.

    I cannot travel very far from you—
    yours is the body I am closest to.

    technical illustration of the distance of the sun, moon and planets

    James Ferguson, Distance Of Sun, Moon, & Planets, 1756. Artwork from James Ferguson, Astronomy Explained Upon Sir Isaac Newton’s Principles (London: Globe, 1756).

    Contributed By MidgeGoldberg Midge Goldberg

    Midge Goldberg is the editor of the anthology Outer Space: 100 Poems, published in 2022 by Cambridge University Press.

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