Dead Ends


Any explanation of the nature of space and time is bound to be intimidating. If physicists ever do figure it out, I predict that they’ll forget how hard it used to be and start giving it to their students for homework. 
George Musser, Scientific American


.
.
We thought them up: twins conjoined,
formed from simple need. Before,
the sun rose and fell without them

Grass grew, winds grazed sea-lapped shores,
salmon-struck clouds slid across a field of
immense aquamarine, 
and the big light
that came 
like clockwork,
to be sliced by horizon’s blade,
shaved to nada, 
until its last arc dropped
into the core of its blaze and vanished

But we became discontent at huddling,
at tending  night’s fires just 
to keep chronic fear
from tearing its way into our gut,

until we slipped its bonds to cleave IS
by orders of light and dark to make it manageable

As if cutting a diamond we cleaved
and began stringing shards of days
upon an imaginary string that would be a rosary,
concocting distinct sequence, fingering each
we learned to count the mists of our imaginings

Wanting elbow room we began expanding place,
kicking it outward here and there, demolishing walls,
expanding home: toward the moon first, then sun, Mars

When we reached Neptune
we might have thought our Here was quite enough
and that Now had been well encapsulated in the gravity of our star
but then we saw small Pluto, like a demitasse among hulking mugs,
and thought,

                        there must be vast future to go
and plenty of days to go there in —as many as we need
with as much room as any God might make
and numbers enough to calculate the expanse of each and both,
and enough words to make them mean
—enough to make space and time
comprehensible, graspable, tellable—
but we always came and come to a silence of dead ends
and walls over which we still must claw in sweat
to climb       to breach      to rip       to rend
.

Jim Culleny
2/10/17