JOCELYN BELL BURNELL
If we assume we’ve arrived:
we stop searching, we stop developing
of massive stars
a neutron star
spherical and dense
the size of a bustling city
more mass than our sun
beams of electromagnetic radiation
whirling from its magnetic poles
recurring signals – palpitating refrains from space
– first observed in 1967
by Jocelyn Bell Burnell
and Antony Hewish –`
Someone takes a photo of student Burnell:
Look happy dear, you’ve just made a discovery!
in 1974 Hewish receives
a Nobel Prize in Physics
(alongside Martin Ryle)
millisecond pulsars can siphon matter
and momentum from its companion
Burnell wins other weighty awards
an abundance of all her significant work
she donates a substantial sum to further
those who are most often ignored in science—
in hope they strive becoming physics researchers
pulsars radiating light
in multiple wavelengths
We’re keeping an invisible chart
delineating the days between every
face to face conversation. We begin
to get creative in confinement: turn
ourselves into maple origami, fashion
hammocks out of blankets, craft vessels
from old vinyl. Shape bread into words.
Invert every room. We are undergoing
lasting transformations. It’s impossible
listening to Charles Mingus standing
still. You just want to scoop yourself up
and parachute from on top of the house
as sonorous notes chase you, freefalling.
Each breath outside becomes triumphant.
Anything to nurture the fierce yearning
the longing for touch, even predictability.
We reach out and deliver daisies and cake.
Envelopes with wine red pencil marks. Trick
cards with faces. We stretch out our ears into
the afternoon sun listening to the wattlebird.
They sing in sparkling paragraphs. No
thought or care of yesterdays or tomorrows
or any afterlife. But we do. Always
carrying this extended memory with us.
Constructing our own symphonies
of everyone’s shared experiences –
united tapestry of single notes
Alicia Sometimes is a writer and broadcaster. Her poems are published in Best Australian Science Writing, Best Australian Poems, Meanjin, Griffith Review and more. She is director and co-writer of the science-poetry planetarium shows, Elemental and Particle/Wave. Her TedxUQ talk about the passion of combining art with science can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch Website: www.aliciasometimes.com