hey, orbit

by The Cowl Editor on February 11, 2022



pink lilies
Photo courtesy of pixabay.com


by Max Gilman ’25


you became my orbit 

my normal, 

now you don’t know what to say 

neither do i 

i never really knew what to tell you 

if i had, i wouldn’t be here 

these fingers have never been too good 

at reaching for what they need. 

except when the item within my grasp, 

wants to burn my skin to a liquid. 


where then should i orbit—

if not you? 


the blades of lime-green-swordplay would invite my presence, 

i suppose, though they couldn’t have ever denied it. 

i don’t want to lie with the grass, 

it’s too accepting, 

my orbit there, 

boring and bottling. 

i want to orbit you. 

lily was the name of an old friend of mine, along with the flowers that crowd around the ankles, like children, in awe of something stupendously curious. 


hey lily, the person, 

how are things going with you? 

did you ever tell your mom off? 

she always lay unrealistic pressure on you, 

hey lily, the flower, 

how have the days been with you? 

did you ever tell the wind off? 

it always lay unbearable pressure on your skinny stem, 


hey orbit, 

i think i’m ready  

hey orbit, 

i know i ask for a lot 

hey orbit, 

you wanna do this thing, just you and me? 


we could take a minute out of the rotation, 


let’s watch the orbit from Venus,  

—oh and hey, if you can’t stay, i get it. 


Man in Orbit 


“It sure is strange out ‘ere.” 

“You weren’t the first to say that. But yes, it is quite odd, ‘out here.’” 

“Who else said it then?” 

“It is of trivial significance. You just remind me of someone I once knew.” 

“Always so mysterious. You have any friends here?” 

“Here? Only, here…” 

“Well yeah, yer friends and all, ya know, like around here, who’re yer friends?” 

“Aren’t you my friend?” 

“Well, I mean, I guess I’m your friend. But I won’t be sticking around much longer.” 

“Oh yes. And I suppose these ‘friends’ often spend much time together?” 

“Usually. Yeah, they do.”


“Why are you here?” 

“Because I wanted to see the sun, the stars, I don’t know.” 

“Are you satisfied?” 

“I…don’t…know. How do I know when I’m satisfied?” 

“You usually don’t. That’s the worst part.” 

“What? Then why even ask me?” 

“I don’t know. Maybe I hoped you had figured it out.” 

“Yer strange, know that?” 

“Maybe strange is not as bad as they say.” 

“Sure, but maybe it is.” 

“Why are you here? You said you were ‘ready.’ Are you, if you don’t even know why you’re here?” 

“Shit, okay I get it! Obviously there’s stuff I gotta think about.” 

“I think you forget. We’re not friends. I don’t need to tell you what you want to hear.” 

“Yeah. I guess we’re not.” 

“But to answer your question, I’m like you, orbit. I don’t got ‘friends.’ I figured it’d be better to be alone than with someone.” 

“But you’ll lose me too. Why waste the effort?” 

“I don’t know. How many times have I said that to you now?” 


“Yeah, I don’t. Guess it’s just human nature.” 

“Personally, I think you’re ready too.” 

“Yeah, for what?” 


“Quit your orbiting. Stand still and catch your footing. Notice YOUR patterns and promptly dispose of them. Curve your trajectory, aim for a course of YOUR own design. These are the last words I have for you. I hope you learned at least this; it is entirely necessary for one to break from the rotation, at some point. Farewell.” 


And orbit left, for good.


“My only friend…orbit, you told me to leave you. Is this what you want?” 


Farewell Address to “There”


Sometimes I ponder of orbit, 

Of what knowledge was held there for me, 

Of what life wasn’t, 

Of the sun, and how the moon looks to her. 


Dear orbit, 

I’m sorry things couldn’t have worked out. I always hoped we could at least remain friends, though you deny me even that. And that is fine, but it hurts. I was a man in orbit the other night, I didn’t enjoy it as I thought. I was still lonesome, a feeling I had hoped to ease off. I guess when you feel this way, it sticks around for a while. Hey orbit, thanks again for everything we had, even fleeting.  




Someone You Once Knew