Ann E. Michael


The Black Hole Sings To Itself

Day is a concept I lack:
Seven days of silence is nothing to me
To music of flattened spheres,
The heavy suck of power falling inward,
I take sound. And light. Gravity
Into my central system, absorbent
Waves, reverberations, I collect them
While I funnel myself into myself.
Little tune, I invent you to accompany me,
While I funnel myself into myself.
Waves, reverberations, I collect them
Into my central system, absorbent
I take sound. And light. Gravity,
The heavy suck of power, falling inward
To music of flattened spheres—
Seven days of silence is nothing to me:
Day is a concept I lack,
The black hole sings to itself.

Event Horizon

Since that time, the heavens have gone farther off,
and grown astronomical. —William Hazlitt

Here is the line beyond which there’s
no boundary; here our reasoning
is quantum reasoning, frozen, slowed
to curled dimensions weighing the probable.
3-D familiarity stops: gets off the bus,
listens to bees caressing columbine—
in the green chaos of the grasses,
honeysuckle’s scent. Beyond this line, no
gravity, or so much of it the word “density”
does not suffice. Refuse the paradox
of dark star. Universe expands, unlocked.
And what if the cosmos did gestate
as a stressed-out Planck-length particle?
What if the universe is doughnut-shaped
or tortuously dimensional—Calabi-
Yau figure of quantum tunneling?
Would that mean we might wrestle
with angels hidden in seven dimensions,
angels long abandoned by earth’s embrace
tussling in the folds of an intimate cosmos?
Suspended just beyond a black hole’s lisp,
we glimpse the astronomical.


Darling, listen to me, how often I speak
of the absent when I open my mouth to speak

and it is you who are absent and it is you
who fill my being with moments past

a gallery, a folio of memories: autumn hues
in pink light, fields of Queen-Anne’s-lace, blueberries,

constellations of Christmas cookies on the wide
pan of night sky, stellar lamps, warm eggs

still whole in a nest we found. Then, snow.
With that the absence, again, of you

your black boots and the hoot of January owls.
Lost, though I speak of them, childhood hours.

At any rate, if not lost completely, intangible
because that is how memory works, not dense

or solid as your shoulder is solid when
I lie my head against the present flesh of you

and not invisible to me although others
who are here when you are not do not see,

and not lost. Never are you lost to me.
I hold you, absent, in mind, my version of you

the you I have with me always, my you.

Torus (Theory)

“The basic idea is that God’s on a budget.”
—Dr. George Smoot, physicist*

Infinity, we now propose,
Is but a human construct.
Imagined. Nature may prefer
A simpler course of conduct,

Cares nothing for our complicated
Math, indeed, defies plotting
(Finds calculus overrated)
Loves paradox, wants nothing.

A universe constrained;
Let us consider, then:
Topography its limit, small,
(Or smaller by comparison).

Instead of infinite expansion
Moving us farther apart,
Inflationary attributes
Start, cease, and re-start—

Take place in torus (yes,
A doughnut)—cheap breakfast
On which God and physicist
Can, in theory, equally subsist.

*University of California’s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory; quoted in NY Times Science
Times pages week of 3/10/03

The Physicist’s Consolation

I remind myself you are not
a black hole.

You’ve compressed yourself
impenetrable, and though I was

captured by your gravity
I can calculate, now, my escape speed.

I have energy enough;
it comforts me to know

once I pass your horizon
you cannot pull me back:

without so much as another step
I will move, ceaselessly,

away from you.


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