That vast sea

Enter the mirror / and find a thousand / other
patterns that Dirac had seen in his equations
that vast sea / suspended, infinite
‘two dimensional numbers’ known as matrices

see yourself / approaching from / the distance
emerged from the mathematics of matrices
if all goes well you will be like the field

the ‘vacuum’ would be like a deep calm sea
the simplest terms / your overwhelming Yes
relative to which all energies are defined

the drum to beat / in each tiny thing
with positive energy relative to the vacuum
perhaps / just there / a sudden visitor
antiparticles, that we can materialize

Physicist Paul Dirac (1902–1984) is quoted as saying that science and poetry are “incompatible” (Dirac: A Scientific Biography by Helge Kragh, Cambridge University Press 1990, p. 258).

Lines 1, 3, 5, etc, are phrases from poems in The Drunken Elk, by Shane McCauley, Sunline Press 2010. Lines 2, 4, 6, etc, are fragments from Antimatter, a popular-science book by Frank Close, Oxford University Press 2009.

Selective Logging

Dwellingup, Western Australia

Foresters (said the sign) choose trees
     for particular purposes.
A perfect tree, tall, straight,
     is taken for construction.
The handrails of the treetop
     viewing platform. Its planks.
     Its high, deep-planted poles.
The new stumps
     of an old cottage. Its rough rafters.
     Its window-frames, weatherboards.

So a twisted tree is allowed
     to grow, like Zhuangzi said?
Blossoms for singing
     honeyeaters, shade
     for meditators?

Sometimes (said the sign)
a perfect tree
     is left to seed the forest.

A twisted tree might do
for an occasional table,
     sanded slice of gnarl or burl
     on a tripod of lumpy branches,
or a spinning top,
a candlestick,
a sculpture
     of the spirit of the trees.

And a perfect tree, a truly
     perfect tree,
might well enfold enough depth
     to make a bass guitar,
or encode enough delicate strength
     to form
     a cello.

Zhuangzi: see The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, translated by Burton Watson, Columbia University Press 1968, p. 35.

“Enfold” alludes to the enfolding of information in the “implicate order” that physicist David Bohm has suggested may underlie the universe. This is discussed in his book Wholeness and the Implicate Order, Routledge 1980, chapter 6, pp. 140–171.

Corpse Pose

I let my legs and arms come off
and lay them in the dust
My long muscles melt

Fluid oozes
all over the boards
and out across the universe

The head comes off the neck
like a paddymelon from a dry vine
in late summer
between a fence and a highway,
rolls away and falls in a hollow,
earthing itself like the skull
of Yorick

The pelvis, heavy, unclicks
from the spine
and rests,
like the rusted truss
of a forgotten chair
unpurposed
by the side of the road

Ribs fall away and stripe
the ground
All that’s left:

the heart

To matter & thrum

When I looked in the book I found:
Time is the temple — Time itself and Space —
observed, marked out, to make the sacred place
on the four-quartered sky, the inwalled ground.
— Ursula K. Le Guin, “Contemplation at McCoy Creek”

If I’m good, Lord, if my karma serves,
will you bring me back as a bass guitar?

     Known by the fingers, slung from the shoulders
     of Adam Clayton, Esperanza Spalding,
     Robbie Shakespeare, some nextdoor kid,
     whichever altar you choose…

     If I’m good, Lord, if my karma serves,
     will you let me embody your sinous groove
     the one & one & two in one
     of your snake-limbed dance? Reassemble me
     from spruce & steel, pass me from hand
     to hand, give me one purpose only?

     To underpin. To intone, hum,
     to murmur, mutter, to matter & thrum
     the flow notes, womb notes, Lam, Ram,
     the low tones that ground the Om.
     Make me make the floor of the chord,
     the salt & ochre, the heavy water,

     the earth, the rock, the dub, the step,
     the harmonics, waves, weaving fields,
     the neutron, proton, quarks, gluon,
     the Higgs, the mystical boson.

Will you bring me, Lord?
If I’m good, Lord?

From A coat of ashes
“Contemplation at McCoy Creek” is on p. 17 of Late in the Day: Poems 2010–2014 by Ursula K. Le Guin, PM Press 2016.