On the Orbit of Socially Distanced Bodies

"In retrograde motion, each planet seems to slow 
down at times, then move in reverse, or retrograde, before 
resuming its course." - Encyclopedia Brittanica

In grocery stores, now there are stick-on
decals on the floor that show customers 

where they must stand in relation to 
others. Walking in the neighborhood,

we try to skirt around other people 
taking advantage of the spring 

sunlight, the sight of trees recovering 
leaves and buds, the river no longer 

wearing drab winter threads. In Ptolemy's
model, where the earth stands still at

the center of the universe, all heavenly 
bodies should trace a perfect circle around 

the earth. But they also wobble, slowing down 
as they move farther away and speeding up 

as they come closer again. Secluded now 
for weeks in our homes, not going to work or 

school or church, not eating out or seeing any-
one except whoever is sheltering in place with us,

it's as if we share that same eccentricity of
movement: and our bodies quicken at the sight

of other bodies just out walking, trying but 
not always able to keep to their own path.


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