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Page 85

What we call blankness is static,
not an absence, but a presence,
the white noise of which custom
makes "silence." There's the blankness
of a television screen filling with snow
and the blankness of a gray screen -- full of
drifting reflections -- ghostly fish bowl)
that has been clicked OFF. Which
is blanker? Which sadder?

An astronaut is lost in space, heading outwards,
cannot be retrieved. At first we hear his voice,
his farewells, his brave chitchat, attempts
to joke; increasingly the human sound
is pocked by cosmic blips, gradually
(it seems years, but is only hours or days)
"fades out," that is, turns to static,
is supplanted by a random noise

in which, we, accustomed to listening hard
for the breaking-up voice, keep detecting
wisps of him, whispers, half-syllables;
cannot quite unhear his trying to reach us,
though we know, by now, he's long out
of oxygen.

No wonder we want stories, words,
anything human, even ghosts.

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