There Are Different Ways of Looking at Things

There Are Different Ways of Looking at Things
On August 21, 1969, a spacecraft arrived in Earth orbit from interstellar space. The world’s attention was captured by the opportunity, and programs were quickly instituted to attempt communication with the extraterrestrial visitor.

By 1977, progress was sufficient for the visitor to explain its purpose in traveling the stars. Its practice, it said, was to search alone for developing civilizations. It stayed with each until it could contribute something of its own which that civilization understood.

Twenty-three further years passed before the visitor announced the achievement of its goal. It shortly departed Earth, leaving this poem.

If you know what you can see,
listen to the fireflies
turning through the atmosphere
with a snow of cries.

25 August 1983
I remember returning again and again to the prose, struggling to tighten it up—a job I can do smoothly now. And I think I overdid it. It’s rather dry. But I’ve always liked the versicle, and it needs the context for its full meaning.