Photos by Robert Reichert - Click for gallery



Fall 03


And Now




Shiva balances on his right leg, crooking his left
up and across his body
and physicists have proposed
that the universe will end in a Big Crunch
in the next ten billion years or so
and an inscription in stone, found near Jerusalem,
bears the words “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”
and Shiva’s dreadlocks fan out from his head,
undulating like a musical score,
and the words were carved
on a 20-inch long burial box used by Jews
only in the first centuries B.C. and A.D.
and scientists call the network of branching
bubble universes the “multiverse,”
which could continue forever,
and if the inscription is authentic,
it would be the earliest known documentation
of Jesus outside the Bible
and if the universe collapses it will end
in one infinitely tiny point of mass and energy
cosmologists call a singularity
and Shiva’s poised body is framed
by a large hooplike aureole, a prabha,
which is at once the circle of life and a ring of fire,
and Edgar Allan Poe, departing
from the conventional wisdom of his day,
which saw the universe as static and eternal,
insisted that it began from a single
primordial particle, in one instantaneous flash,
and according to inflation theory
what we see of the universe
is only a tiny patch of space
and Shiva’s dance is one of cosmic force
that destroys and then recreates the world
and the James whose name is on the stone
could have been one of many Jameses, but rarely
would a brother of the deceased have been included
unless the brother was prominent,
and Poe, who was the first to solve Obler’s paradox
(the mystery of why the sky is dark at night),
knew that in time and space the universe is finite
and now “Shiva as Nataraja, Lord of Dance”
is on view at the Sackler
and scientists are using supernovae
as measuring beacons to gather information
on the universe and its true future
and a researcher at the Sorbonne has calculated
that no more than 20 people over two generations
in first-century Jerusalem could have been called
“James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus”
and inflation pretty much forces
the idea of multiple universes upon us
and Poe never doubted
that his ideas would eventually get their due.


Lucille Lang Day is the author of four poetry collections: Infinities (Cedar Hill Publications), Wild One (Scarlet Tanager Books), Fire in the Garden (Mother's Hen), and Self-Portrait with Hand Microscope (Berkeley Poets' Workshop and Press), which was selected by Robert Pinsky for the Joseph Henry Jackson Award in Literature. She also has a chapbook in the Greatest Hits series from Pudding House Publications.