We Used To Think The Universe Was Made…

By J.O. Morgan

We used to think the universe was made
of tiny invisible pin-points of energy, jostling
and tumbling and buzzing together, and so,
by whatever particular arrangement they took,
and the way in which they bounced off one another,
all sorts of physical matter could be produced.
Later we found the universe, in actual fact, is made
of tiny invisible threads of incredible length, and,

in the same way a violin string changes pitch
when touched at points along its measured span,
so all these interweaving loops and knots,
this tangle of quantum spaghetti,
as it flexes and line crosses line,
so it resonates throughout the whole bundle
a complex vibratory code that defines
any outward appearance and characteristic.

After which we discovered the likely reality
was of tiny invisible sheets, many layers
of infinitesimal thinness, each film
undulating at tremendous speeds;
multiple parallel oceans, their rippling surfaces
folding and flattening, wave-crests on wave-crests,
nudged at and nosed at, their lingering kisses
collected, expressed as specific material forms.

We were young, we were anxious to clutch at
whatever proof fitted. Still, humility liberates;
when it comes to matters of truth we’re not picky.
Ironing our numbers presented the ideal
of tiny invisible shapeshifting blocks that squirm
and bulge, interlock and uncouple, that rub,
knock, wobble, split, and so make up
the whole gamut of substances we take for granted.

All this was long ago. Our models had risen
to eleven-dimensional-space when
our application for further funding was rejected
and we were asked to vacate the premises.
We took it well, were optimistic for the future,
though that was hardly the crux of the issue:
just try transporting eleven-dimensional furniture
in an incontrovertibly three-dimensional van.