How many football fields, jelly beans, motes of stardust
to get from here, right here, to there—

to the crisp edge of the universe, burned
like cookies on a metal tray. And where is there?

Do astrophysicists know something they aren’t saying?

Do they show up daily at the lab, shrug on their official
white coats, power up the cyclotron, then step outside

for a coffee, bask on sunny steps like salamanders,
run their fingers through their trusty spaniel’s fur,

having concluded that the question is unsolvable?
Or maybe the solution is too terrible to contemplate.

Maybe they have found the edge. Maybe they have proved
the ancients were correct: the world is as flat as Kansas. 

Maybe they have peered into a roiling pit, like a slash
of dark from childhood closets left ajar,

a void choked up with Coke cans, Walmart bags,
plastic straws, and a universe of dirty diapers.

Maybe they already know there is no coffee there,
no sunshine, and definitely no spaniels.