A smooth stone tablet—slightly larger than a paperback, but smaller than a laptop—etched with a few odd divots, scratches, marks. A very modest piece in the museum’s display case. Neither the famed calendric disc of the Aztecs, heavy with the rites of sacrificial violence, nor the intricate mandalas of Tibet composed of colored sand which are brushed away upon completion. The placard simply states “cosmograma (?)” with no other attribution. The few lines and points scored upon it could be a record of the stars, of comets, of the cycles of the moon and sea, of the seasons—equinox and solstice, the earth’s daily rotation: a systematic ordering of the universe demonstrating how its far-flung mechanisms implicate our earthbound routines. Morning, noon, and night; play and work; worship and mourning; sowing and harvest; death and fertility. Coordinates, trajectories, fulcrums where the sun and its many relatives, billionized across the dark beyond, operate their spooky action-at-a-distance deep inside our every cell. Or maybe it means none of this. Maybe the lines were only childish doodles, the divots little spots for counters in a gameboard.
Will Cordeiro has recent work appearing or forthcoming in Best New Poets, Blue Earth Review, DIAGRAM, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Nashville Review, Poetry Northwest, Zone 3, and elsewhere. He teaches in the Honors College at Northern Arizona University.