The tiny echo

February 2016

Gravitational waves
were detected last week, I said.

What are they? she asked.

It’s Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, I said.
Think of space (spacetime, I should have said)
as a rubber sheet.
Where there are heavy things on it,
like stars and planets, it bends
downwards. That’s gravity.

Oh! she said. Of course!

Yes, like ripples, I said. Einstein predicted it
years ago, and now he’s been proved correct. Of course.

But gravity is very weak.
It takes something huge
to make a tiny echo.
They detected the tiny echo
of two black holes whomping together
(my two fists punched each other)
a billion years ago.

A billion years, she said.

Yes, I said. It’s all over the web.
Everyone knows.

I didn’t know, she said.

From A coat of ashes

On looking at the Pointers

It looks as if spatial distances do not exist for electrons.
— Michael Heller

O being
on Proxima B, are you
made of liquid
water and chains
of carbon? Hair,
feather, scale,
bark, or something else?
Photon sensors adapted
to Proxima’s red? What do you
call the Centaurs? How
do the constellations look
from there? Are you
looking back
at us, yellow Sol
in your sky? Have your
people, like mine, measured
the light-years, and counted
four? O being
on Proxima B, closest
exoplanetary soul
there’s likely to be,

is a lepton of my heart
entangled with a lepton
in yours (whatever you use
as a heart) from a time
when they could touch, way back
near the Beginning, in a dream
in which they touch, way in
at the Beginning? If so,

I send you love. Using
the top-down causality
of my organic complex system,

I spin my lepton to yin
so yours may spin to yang.
O being on Proxima B,
can you feel the sunshine?

From A coat of ashes.

Proxima B is a potentially Earth-like planet orbiting the star nearest us, Proxima Centauri, a red dwarf. Proxima Centauri is too faint to be seen with the naked eye. It is the third star of the Alpha Centauri system, which is the “trailing” member of the two Pointers that accompany the Southern Cross. To the naked eye, Alpha Centauri looks like one star, but it is actually a triple. freestarcharts.com/alpha-centauri

The epigraph is from p. 258 of “Where Physics Meets Metaphysics”, pp. 238–277 of On Space and Time, edited by Shahn Majid, Cambridge University Press 2008.

Top-down causality: The Systems View of Life: A Unifying Vision, by Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi, Cambridge University Press 2014, pp. 205–206.

Check my legs

Pantyhose
Tight top
Slim skirt
Mascara
Hairspray
Heels

I can’t lie back on grass to watch the clouds
I can’t sprint through the rain
I can’t sit cross-legged on the railway platform when my hips hurt
I can’t relax on the train: the seats face others
and every second I check my legs
are shut

First published in Tamba 59, December 2016

Stupider and stupider

The White Rabbit scurried past
I’m late I’m late I’m late and she had
to follow him why? I hated
the story it went nowhere stupider
and stupider creepy
smoking caterpillar vicious
Queen of Hearts horrible
pigbaby and I only
six what to make of it? and
at the end the letdown
it was all a dream
so lame
she woke up
back in Victorian England
instead of sorting herself out
instead of escaping
from that hell-pit
by her own wits
like a proper heroine
she just
woke up
lying among the whatever
daisies butterflies
in her pinafore
in her alice band
in her prim little shoes
with her big sister close by
and no deranged
dealers of millinery no
melancholy reptiles no
lakes of tears no
pointlessly battling
rotund little men
I hated the whole story

except for the Cheshire Cat who
seemed the only one who
had it together

First published in LiNQ 43, Feb 2017