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This poem refers to various ideas from physics and brain science. Even if youíre not familiar with these ideas, (which I'm only aware of as an outsider looking in at science), you can still appreciate what the poem has to say about the mind-boggling qualities of the universe. Among the scientific references in the poem, quarks and strings are subatomic building blocks of the world, smaller than atoms, according to various theories in physics. Strings, if they exist, are building blocks that are so small, they have never been detected. In addition, some theories say time may not be real. Others say our universe is constantly splitting into a multitude of universes in which every possible outcome of events is realized. And science raises questions about whether our conscious selves are anything beyond the functioning of the brain, and about whether we have the free will we appear to have. With that said, you are invited to move on to the poem.

 

 

To His Reluctant Sweetheart

by Ken Sanes

1.
If the universe was born from nothing
as a result of spontaneous creation,
and if it is filled with very small particles
that seem to lack a specific location,

and if it includes a lot of mass-free photons
that graciously allow us to see the light,
but most of what's there is empty space,
and all the dark energy is still out of sight,

and if everything owes its very existence
to imperceptible vibrating energy strings,
then how can the world make sense to us
when it seems to be made of missing things?

And how can my self or my freedom be real
when hi-tech scans now routinely reveal
that our brains make decisions before we know
because our will is really controlled from below?

In fact, how can I be much of anything
when a living brain is all there is of me,
and I still face the prospect of nonexistence
in a world of mostly space I canít even see --

in a world, no less, where I'm only a speck,
an inquisitive, self-involved, sensitive dot,
in which my existence seems to be defined
not merely by what I am but by what I am not?

And how can the words I'm offering even now
move you with evidence or a satisfying rhyme
when the world we know may be really unfolding
in what is only a semblance of an interval of time?

I'm sorry to say that the answer, My Dear,
is that the world is missing at the core.
Sadly, we seem to be missing, as well.
And thatís all there is; there isnít any more.


2.
At least those are the facts as I see them, My Dear,
about our failure to exist before we disappear.
And they lead me to make these simple suggestions,
which I'll phrase, for effect, as rhetorical questions:

If the subatomic realm is quarks and vibration,
and the cosmos is separating due to cosmic inflation,
and if we can't know the world or find you or me,
shouldn't we recognize that we've now been set free?

After all, how could we possibly get into trouble
or even be accused of violating a taboo
when the world we know isn't the world at all,
and Iím not me and youíre not you?

And if weíre free, why don't we take pleasure today
and fully renounce the delusion of sin
and realize the enjoyment of romance and play,
regardless of the world outside us, or in?

In fact, why don't we seek after perfect bliss
and bestow on each other tender kiss upon kiss
and touch very deeply throughout the night,
given what we face in the morning light?

Is there anyone who could honestly blame us
for committing such a harmless sin of commission
when the universe itself is an unexpectedly large
and intricately impossible act of omission?

Besides, if we're stuck with multiple futures,
then other versions of our nonexistent selves
are doing all the things that we're not doing here --
so we do it, and we donít, and we still disappear!

Given these facts about the world, My Dear,
isn't it time for us to move beyond fear
and pledge to be everything in each otherís sight
as we sample each other, delight by delight?

And isn't it also long past the time
we put an end to all the trauma and crying,
since now we know that we can't really die,
in a world where we're dying,

because life and death are just seeing double
and there's nobody here who we need to save
when the nothing silently beckons us forward
and our quarks end up in a common grave.

So letís make our choice, right now, My Dear,
to entwine in passion under the stars above
and create our own impossible universe
of timeless and enduring romantic love,

because now we know the final truth,
that the world is missing at the core.
Sadly, we seem to be missing, as well.
And thatís all there is; there isnít any more.



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