That

Train station
Hungry
Twelve minutes to wait
Five dollars
Plastic wrap
White factory bread
Margarine
Stiff tomato
Square of solidified cheesepaste

Perforated steel bench
I sat
Man
Woman
Unknown language
Toddler
Sat
Stuck-out chubby legs
Small shoes

I turned toward him
Smiled

He looked into my eyes for half a second
without speaking or moving his face.
His pupils and irises were deep and black.

Train
Pantograph
SLINGS ONLY — NO HOOKS

That was it! I thought. What I’ve been looking for.
In the open dark field of the child’s clean eyes,
the What and Not I saw
was That. And him and all his kind the cells of it.

From A coat of ashes

The Millennium Simulation

Stills from one of the Millennium Simulation videos from the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics

For those who are afraid, this
is what we are.

Made of spots and threads of light,
it looks like a giant brain, tissue
microscoped. Each neuron, gathered
axons, spot of light, plays
a cluster
of galaxies. Each drift
of connective tissue, teased-out wisp
of dandelion clock, mimes a trace
of dark matter. The scale indicator
reads one
gigaparsec: two billion light-years.
No commentary, no soundtrack.
The great column
of colonies of shining globules and filaments
turns in majestic silence.

For those who are afraid,
this.

The view zooms in: the ship flies closer.
Among the lights, black gaps appear,
spread, become caves
of space, of holding
everything

apart. Gravity
and Light. Play it
again. Listen. Is that
a sussuration? Whispers, waves, pings
along the filaments? What is it?

This.
For those who are afraid.

From A coat of ashes

Watch the videos and read about the Millennium Simulation Project at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics.

The italicised phrase in stanza 4 is from the poem “From The Testament of Tourmaline” by Randolph Stow, in The Land’s Meaning, Fremantle Press 2012, p. 147.