A few days ago, near Moab, Utah, a popular and iconic red rock pinnacle collapsed while no one watched.

At first, park officials called the initial report a hoax. The head of the Cobra formation of Fisher Towers, formed by millions of years of erosion, seemed to us humans, a permanent thing, as if erosion revisited as the world slept and blew on it.

In an instant, millions of images of the formation became “before” photographs. Images made since the fall become “after” images. One day a Cobra head; next day, headless, dead.

We find little resolution in before and after images. It’s the during that eludes us. We struggle with abrupt change, and we seldom see the progress that brings change.

The during slips past us every day. We’re just not programmed to notice the subtle daily changes in canyons, mesas or arches, or even in the mirror’s reflection. We notice things like age only as comparison snapshots.

Then I read a story about the California wild fires, and how the fires threatened the facilities of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) scientists.For several hours, SETI was forced to suspension their 24/7 search for aliens.

SETI scientists shut down all computers and data collection devices – everything. They had to evacuate their spaces, leaving the place dark with data uncollected.

One SETI worker said that the fire had destroyed their favorite lunch restaurant, which he admitted was the most excitement they had seen in a long time.

I don’t intend to mock loss or threat of loss. We’ve all had our share of it lately. That said, the link between these two events cannot go unnoticed.

The shock of instant change of something seemingly so fixed in a state of being, and the shutting down of SETI for a few hours… I can’t just look the other way.

We are bombarded with the before and the after, but it’s the during that we always seek and never see.

–    –    –    –

The During


A close encounter

Favorite lunch place burning up

Burning down?

. . .

Shut down vacant

No signs of life

Dark science, flat lines


. . .





. . .

Somewhere stirring

In some remote slumbering place

Dark science burps, a lid raises

Strange eye eyes the Universal Clock

. . .

Snooze button

Return to a sleepy place

Please just one more millennium

No, time to rise

. . .

Rise and return to work

This life of signs

A dead bed of yawning stars

On a new lunch search

. . .

Somewhere they awaken, stir

Hungry to return

The takeover


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