The Calculation

Anthony Sobin

Given a constant velocity and the exact location of two points on a continuum, the time required to traverse the distance between them may easily be calculated as may the absolute time at one point provided the same for the other is known.
--Kurt Hauptmann Astronomy 1797


It is touching that I don't know for sure
whether today is Saturday or Friday.
I'm sitting at my desk early in the morning
biting my nails and blowing the chips
against the landlord's wall.
I am crying softly because it is, for sure,
not Sunday and there is, for sure, no NFL game
until at least tomorrow--and even then this
miserable Salt Lake City T.V. doesn't broadcast the Redskins
             (Will my aging father back in Washington, who watched
             with me through twenty lean years of Sundays, screaming
             at the picture tube "Put in Bukich--why won't they ever
             put in Bukich!" when even as a child I knew that Eddie
             LeBaron was doing as well as any quarterback could, given
             that lousy team, live to see the Washington Redskins win a
             Super Bowl?)
but rather lets the signals from the East just zoom by overhead
to disappear forever in space. In the sky this Sunday, only a
dozen feet over my roof, the plays of the three-hour game
will stream by like weather, the linebackers red-dogging
through breaks in the clouds like horses in an apocalyptic
             painting
and I'll be sitting down here not knowing a thing about it
until the highlights are shown on the news, hours later.

I think hard about yesterday for any clue to its identity
so that by a rational Eighteenth Century process I could make
a definitive deduction about this one late Twentieth Century
             day.
I cry harder and wish for snow to fall from the charged clouds
to freeze all that motion out the window and deaden things
like a shot. The powerful stadium-shaped dishes on the planets
of distant galaxies are at this moment still picking up
the Redskins of the fifties and sixties. A lot they know.
If it should happen that today is Saturday, then right now
Eddie LeBaron is fishing on the Chesapeake Bay, retired and
growing old, his hand poised behind his head about to make
a long cast.

At this moment one of the super sensitive antennae Out There
is receiving the Redskins-Browns game of Sunday, Jan. 15, 1959.
The speed of light being a universal constant, if I knew just
              where
that signal was right now, today would be a simple calculation,
              but
I don't, and it isn't, and we are in the last quarter, and all their
Redskin fans are plenty worried and drinking their kind of beer
              fast.
At this very second, Eddie's arm is cocked somewhere about to
              throw
the game-losing interception, and is frozen in that pose forever,
hurtling past planet, planet and planet, like a painting, a painting
of the only believable life after death.


[Reprinted from The Sunday Naturalist]

 

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