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.