Monday, March 14, 2005

The Something of Nothing

My sister is a planetary scientist, and one day we had a lengthy discussion about what scientists in her field call "dark matter." My elementary understanding of this subject is that we only know, or can identify and/or quantify, about five percent of all of the matter in the universe. The rest looks like nothing to our human eyes; but the possibilities of what this dark matter may represent are seemingly endless--perhaps parallel universes where our other selves are living out all the alternative paths our lives could have taken. Freaky, but cool.

The idea of what nothing can represent is fascinating. Consider this poem by Kay Ryan:


Nothing Ventured

Nothing exists as a block
and cannot be parceled up.
So if nothing's ventured
it's not just talk;
it's the big wager.
Don't you wonder
how people think
the banks of space
and time don't matter?
How they'll drain
the big tanks down to
slime and salamanders
and want thanks?

Kay Ryan


The speaker in this poem states that nothing is one big, unquantifiable something. Maybe it's like love; can you measure how much you love someone? But the unmeasureable nature of nothing does not nullify its existence. That's why to venture it is "the big wager." You can only venture all of it, not a part.

I'll add this gorgeous poem by Linda Hogan. Feel free to read this short essay I wrote on it.


Nothing

Nothing sings in our bodies
like breath in a flute.
I dwells in the drum.
I hear it now
that slow beat
like when a voice said to the dark,
let there be light,
let there be ocean
and blue fish
born of nothing
and they were there.
I turn back to bed.
The man there is breathing.
I touch him
with hands already owned by another world.
Look, they are desert,
they are rust. They have washed the dead.
They have washed the just born.
They are open.
They offer nothing.
Take it.
Take nothing from me.
There is still a little life
left inside this body,
a little wildness here
and mercy
and it is the emptiness
we love, touch, enter in one another,
and try to fill.

Linda Hogan

1 comment:

esclava said...

"but the possibilities of what this dark matter may represent are seemingly endless--perhaps parallel universes where our other selves are living out all the alternative paths our lives could have taken."


That thought will have my mind going for days. Thanks.