AFTER DOING BONG HITS ON A CRUISE SHIP WITH THE WEDNESDAY NIGHT COMEDIAN
You stand on the aft of the ship
as the last cold breath of the Big Bang
hangs its microwave curtain
down on your shoulders.
You ask those lights that shine
through the leaking roof of heaven
if the past 13.7 billion years
ticked by for this moment?
You consider those ancient forces
which welded quarks into protons,
and allowed matter to assemble—
nucleus smashing nucleus
in giant stars that sat like rotund
grandmothers in gravity’s rocking chair
knitting element into element.
You watch them throw a delicate
filamentary doily over
the universe’s nightstand.
You consider that through the glorious nebulae
perhaps God’s eyes do peer in on us
through a jeweler’s loupe.
He inspects what has become
of that first helium atom,
which once sat alone in the inflating
dark room of space,
a diamond ring ready
for the first bride’s hand.
You consider that the electrostatic sticking
together of dust formed planets,
and that carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen
became sentient beings.
You question whether this one glistening
human moment could be the reason
it all began
with a burst of heat,
then a sea of photons carved
into the black granite of nothing.
Tonight, you realize you are afterbirth—
on a small planet, in a solar system,
in a warped, barred spiral galaxy, accelerating,
surfing on the bang’s rip curl.
Claudine R. Moreau moonlights as a poet. She teaches physics and astronomy at Elon University where her biggest thrill is showing students the cosmos through a telescope. Dark Machines, her first chapbook of suburban gothic poems, was published in March 2012. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in Tar River Poetry, 34th Parallel, PANK, Neon Magazine, Iodine Poetry Journal, Oysters and Chocolate, The Pinch, Segue, The Bitter Oleander, Arsenic Lobster, The GW Review, and Pivot among others. She is currently working on a new collection of astronomy-themed poems.
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