David Walton's Fiction

Ode to Ephemerides

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I had some ephemerides; they came to me one day
As classic two-line elements; I thought them here to stay.
We met each other’s needs with sympathetic reciprocity
While cheerfully extracting time, position, and velocity.

Their charming eccentricities were known on every side.
Their propagating following was wonderfully wide.
Our pastor even praised their inclination in a homily.
To find them sad or out of sorts was rare: a true anomaly.

I had some ephemerides; I loved them as a friend,
But all orbital beginnings are bound to have an end.
Our friendship proved ephemeral; distrust began to climb
And grave uncertainties were bound to creep in over time.

Our peace was soon perturbed by gravity and relativity.
Telemetry discrepancies appeared with sad proclivity.
We had a nasty fight about their semi-major axis
Which turned into an argument about their periapsis.

I had some ephemerides, but nothing on this Earth
Is constant in its happiness or lasting in its mirth.
No joy that life can give me could provide the same dynamics
As my brief and tragic love affair with celestial mechanics.

With apologies to Patrick Barrington.
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