Powers of Ten
The richness of our own neighbourhood
is the exception, the calm voice over says
at the point when the imaginary cameraman
has swung out to a distance from the earth
where galaxies appear as distant stars,
small and far apart. This loneliness
is the norm, he says, then turns
the camera round, heading back again
to where the film started out, the lake side
in Chicago, the couple sleeping
after a picnic, their blanket on the ground.
The camera zooms in on the hand
of the man but doesn’t stop there, goes
deeper in, sliding like a beam
of radioactive light to show the worlds
that wait inside. Finally we come
to the heart of an atom, two electrons
dancing in a circle, in a tight embrace
of mutual attraction. Deeper down,
chaotic darkness swirling, empty space.
by Ciaran Parkes
Editor’s Note: The closing lines brilliantly highlight the central image of this poem, where loneliness and an eternal longing for connection keep pace with the insistent reality of space.