Science & Technology
Advanced Alchemy

Somehow down the ages
Alchemy got a bad name,
claiming everything is spun
from one primal matter
more elemental than fistfuls of dirt
studded with pill bugs, pelleting
their tiered bodies against change.

Now it’s called Superstring Theory,
parts more perfect than the whole.
Because relativity and quantum mechanics
can’t both be right.
Because particle theory only works
when we pretend gravity doesn’t exist
which only children can do
with both elegance and aplomb,
their bodies airborne as electrons.

Today my younger son asked,
“Which do you like better,
the letter Q or a fish?”
Even the smallest cannot resist
the innate and ancient urge
to spin gold out of everything,
to seek The Mother of All Theories,
a one-size-fits-all god,
atonement on the house.

There are truths divine
to seek but disastrous to find,
facts more afraid of us
than we are of them,
wisdom feral and raw.
Some nights the universe hums a tune
and we do not know the words.
Some of us sing along anyway.
“Q Q Q,” we chirp.
Murmur, “Fish fish fish.”

Italicized lines in the second stanza are borrowed from Brian Greene, and from

Photo Credit:US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Copyright 2008,  Jessica Goodfellow

Winner of the Concrete Wolf Chapbook Competition, Chad Walsh Poetry Prize and a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Jessica Goodfellow had had work in the anthology Best New Poets 2006, and was featured on Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac.”

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