Two Poems

Neil Rollinson


Your coffee grows cold on the kitchen table,
which means the universe is dying.
Your dress on the carpet is just a dress,
it has lost all sense of you now.
I open the window, the sky is dark
and the house is also cooling, the garden,
the summer lawn, all of it finding an equilibrium.
I watch an ice-cube melt in my wine,
the heat of the Chardonnay passing into the ice.
It means the universe is dying: the second law
of thermodynamics. Entropy rising.
Only the fridge struggles to turn things round
but even here there’s a hidden loss.
It hums in the corner, the only sound
on a quiet night. Outside, in the vast sky
stars are cooling. I think of the sun
consuming its fuel, the afternoon that is past,
and your dress that only this morning
was warm to my touch.


If we could live long enough
we’d be able to watch the effects
of cold fusion turn the diamond
on your wedding-ring to a nub of iron.
I should have given you something purer,
more incorruptible than a diamond,
a single proton perhaps, with its up and down
quarks and its gluons, a love heart
inside it, your name and mine.


Strange to think, in that flash flood
of neutrinos after the supernova,
of all those particles pouring through you,
a hundred billion a second, and your body
completely untouched; to think of the spaces
inside you, electrons and neutrons spinning
like galaxies. What is it that holds you together,
keeps you from falling apart in my hands?


At the bottom of a zinc mine I am
trying to weigh the universe
in a tank of water. You cannot imagine
an endlessly expanding universe.
I look for dark matter, for WIMPs,*
for the missing mass that will
hold us together. I bait the tank with a crystal
of cold germanium, wait for the recoil,
for the tremor of particles colliding
like marbles. But nothing happens.
We are growing further apart by the day.

[*] Weakly Interacting Massive Particles.