The Volume of the Universe

2 Crow illo

          Jennifer Crow

The Volume of the Universe

            For Jon

You asked me to find the volume of the Milky Way—

it took a whole page in my notebook, while you meditated

on the glories of frozen yogurt and geometry. I sketched

the boundaries of knowledge, the curves that hold us

like a mother’s arms, the starry depths that make up almost all

we can see of the night sky. I remember this much from high school:

pi times the square of the radius, multiplied by the height

of the galactic disc. I remember this much: once, I hadn’t dreamed

of you, and the way your hand is outgrowing mine.

This is the measure of my love for you,

that I calculate the span of reaches I will never touch,

though my universe begins and ends

in the width of your smile.


Shy and nocturnal, Jennifer Crow has rarely been photographed in the wild, but it’s rumored that she lives near a waterfall in western New York. You can find her poetry on several websites, including Goblin Fruit, Uncanny, Mythic Delirium, Eye to the Telescope, and Mithila Review.  Most recently, her work has appeared in Dreams and Nightmares, Topology, and Not One of Us. She’s always happy to connect with readers on her Facebook author page or on twitter @writerjencrow.

Editor’s Notes: The image to complement the poem is the Pinwheel Galaxy (also known as Messier 101 or NGC 5457) blended with laboratory glassware.


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