After the accolades, after the party-afters,
he sleeps and dreams the pillowed dreams
of all he has accomplished:
The perfectly ordered cosmos. Truth made sentient
in the poetry of his geometry. By twenty-six he‘s proved
gravity’s no pulling thing as Sir Isaac had said,
but a crease in the warp & weft of time.
And while contemplating his navel in a bathtub
in a Zurich hotel, predicted the existence of black holes,
other forms of unspeakable dark matter.
Before this morning, Relativity reigned above
all truths because E equaled MC squared everywhere,
and even the odd quantum, though spooky, was true.
But now he wakes in a torpor, late for the lab.
He wishes he’d never stayed up reading Kafka,
or killed that second bottle of wine.
In youth ornate equations had flamed to life
in his brain, like paradoxical fire, like frail
parallelograms of light.
But now he can’t recall if quantum mechanics
is an eloquent wave function, or only the local
grease monkeys down at the car repair shop.
He staggers to the bathroom, eyes pulsing red
in the mirror as binary stars astraddle the pink nose
his mother so loved. So isosceles, she’d say,
so buttery soft. But now the nose, like all his theories,
disfigures a face disheveled in doubt.
He sits on the bed, stares at his shoes, and slowly,
a great intellectual fracas unfolds in his head:
Can he prove the existence of a shoe? Can the truth
of a shoe exist without the shoe?
Maddeningly, the shoes are bilateral – a parallax
of a pair of brown brogues.
So he takes a shoebox, puts back the shoes
as if they are new, unsoiled by human feet,
And does a thought experiment: re-opens the box
and finds that truth, like a baklava baked
in the brain, only sweetens & congeals to reality
in the cakepan of the neighborhood.
Fuck the lab, he says, forgets to tie his shoes
and stumbles out the door, a man starved
for truths he can touch and see and smell.
And yes, Schrodinger’s cat has crapped all over the lawn.
Street people are panhandling planets like food stamps,
and all the fundamental particles of the universe are
Down at the Seventh Street Soup Kitchen, ladling
out life in alphabets of stars, spellings of understanding
we can’t quite comprehend, can’t grasp, yet feel
compelled to explain.