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First published in A coat of ashes (Recent Work Press 2019).



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.

Feature image by James McNeill Whistler