For Helen at the NPL

Behind her now
the National History Museum
Pocket Microscope she always screwed down
to its farthest extension of nested rings,
straining to focus

the peacock feather
stolen from the dining room’s
display of stiff dried flowers and fed forwards
on to the stage, a blurred blue
petrol and purple

fronding of fine
barbules and barbicels netting
white light, broken out of straightness and
scattering green and bronze before
the eyes appeared,

optical illusions
blinking between the rachides
like faces half-hidden behind wooden masks
half-hidden in the trees;
behind her now

that closer meant
clearer, learning to pull back
and let the light do its work, revealing the lion’s
ruff on a scalloped oak moth,
the canyons in a cone;

then wising up,
withdrawing into augmentedness:
I see thee better – in the Dark – I do not need
a Light; firing electrons at a stage
one thousandth

the width of a human
hair, without an audience, the only
way of telling what’s happening there between
the grains, the photons’

not to see it
but to send the beam out
and watch for what comes back – shots in the net,
renderings, a dream that
splits the night.

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