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,

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

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

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.

Many hands

The day before the fridge broke down
++++I wished it would
++++shut up

As I listened, trying to breathe,
++++the noise separated
I could hear the electrons
++++shocking about in the wires
the liquefied gas gurgling thinly
++++in the pipes
a ringing like a legion of teeny steel hammers
++++beating and beating on teeny steel tubes

It sounded like a mill of miniature machines
++++worked by miniature sweating slaves
The heat exchanger was crammed
++++with tiny miserable elves
They couldn’t get at the food
++++they worked all day to cool
I heard stomachs roaring,
++++lungs gargling, feet shuffling

Many mouths were whispering
++++Many hands began to twist
++++and pull

First published in Ink Sweat & Tears, 8 July 2021