Pauli Neutrino Telescope, Antarctica, July 14th, 2033

Particle-noir winds from Sagittarius
blow through the superconductor array
frozen deep beneath the Ross Ice Shelf,
howling like ghosts in the machine. Outside
it is 30 below. We huddle down
and eavesdrop on physics inventing itself.

Nearly two hundred thousand years ago,
veiled by the Clouds of Magellan, minds
lit candles in the dark; we rise to find
every screen dancing with neutrino spikes;
even the medium is a message
of vast technologies beyond mankind.

For thirty amphetamine hours we chase
the signal star, until a last tsunami
of neutrinos throb out of its stellar heart
as it goes nova. They saw it coming
and wanted to tell somebody something.
We have no idea where to start.

Africa wakened us to life and death,
and the guilty survivors were seized
by the mystery of it; they would sense
the land was alive and everywhere dense
with meaning; in time it would seem like home.
But suns burst with fathomless indifference

and nothing out there loves flesh that thinks.
The brightness fades, and with it an answer.
Our headphones hiss with the radio noise
of galaxies lost in time; we listen
late into the night for fleeting voices,
for someone to tell us it is otherwise.

—David Barber