Tuesday, 9 August 2011

A New Universe In The Basement

“It looks like it would probably work. It’s actually
safe to create a universe in your basement.”
– Alan Guth, physicist

As long as the weekly washing is done,
they never wonder for even a moment
about my secret science...
so upstairs the washing machine rumbles
and the television talks to itself
of ordinary Saturday lunchtime worlds
while down here, I do bigger things.
Amongst the clutter of basement apparatus
I make tiny adjustments,
stare deep into the heart of a small glass jar,
then flick the final, vital switch.

A small flash flashes, leaves a single dark spot
in the centre of my vision –
and then otherwise, all is as it was before.

Not quite.

For the fleetingest of moments, I have pulled the huge forces
from beyond our own small universe
into my little jar – a crashing together of things
from the eleventh dimension, never more
than a millimetre away – created
a new universe: tiny in the instant of its making,
but growing at the speed of light,
flipping out of our own universe in that same instant
to become itself.

What galaxies, stars and planets may grow there?
What worlds and lands and creatures?
Will they worry about work and school on Monday?
Will custard-shaped somethings
fall in love and live forever?

I write my careful notes,
then return upstairs to the washing machine.
Somewhere another universe makes its new beginning.
In this one, I check that the clothes are clean.

© David Bateman

Swedish man arrested after trying to split atoms in his kitchen
David was Liverpool Poetry Slam Champion 2007, and still hasn’t got over it. His one proper book is Curse Of The Killer Hedge (Iron 1996). He also writes stories and teaches some creative writing.