Illustration by Alejandra Oviedo

The Age of the Possible


at the bottom of being,
where the water that makes
aaathis planet a world
aaaaaais the color of spacetime


the octopus—


with her body-shaped mind
and her eight-arm embrace
aaaof alien realities,
with her colorblind vision
aaasightful of polarized light
and her perpetually awestruck
aaalidless eye—


aaaaaacan see


shades of blue we cannot conceive.


Call it god
aaaif you must
lean on the homely
to fathom the holiness
aaaof the fathomless whole.


aaaAnd meanwhile,
up here,
aaawe swim amid particles
we cannot perceive
aaafolded into dimensions
we cannot imagine


to tell stories about
aaawhat is real and
what is possible,
and what it means to be.


A blink of time ago
we thought the octopus
we thought this blue world
aaabelow three hundred fathoms
until in 1893—
aaaan epoch after Bach
aaascribbled in the margin
aaaaaaof a composition
aaaaaaaaa“Everything that is possible is real”—
we plunged our prosthetic eye
aaadeep into the blue
and found a universe of life.


the octopus,
godless and possible,


Are any of her three hearts breaking
aaaaaaaaafor us
and our impossible blues?


Orion‘s Summer 2022 issue is generously sponsored by NRDC.

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Maria Popova is a reader and a writer, and writes about what she reads on The Marginalian (formerly Brain Pickings), which is included in the Library of Congress’s permanent digital archive of culturally valuable materials. She is the author of Figuring, coeditor of A Velocity of Being: Letters to a Young Reader, and the creator and host of The Universe in Verse.