Quantum Field Theory: a Sonnet

by Judith Goldhaber

Making a poem out of light and air
is not so different from what gods must do
to make a world. An immaterial glue
binds together things that aren't there
until you set them down — not anywhere
but only at a point that fits into
some other empty space — to make a new
poem, or world, or universe to share.
And when it's done, the gods must shake their heads
in wonder at the flimsy scrap of fluff
they have created. Is it solid enough
to take its place with asteroids and beds
and all the other objects men call "real"
torn from that vast and featureless ideal?

First published in Byline.
Copyright © 2003, Judith Goldhaber

The Pencil Nebula, NGC 2736

NGC 2736
The Pencil Nebula

Judith Goldhaber is a poet, playwright, and science journalist. During the past year she won the Annie Finch Prize for Poetry, sponsored by The National Poetry Review, and has been a finalist in five other national poetry competitions. Her poems have appeared in The Literary Review, Byline, and The National Poetry Review. As a journalist specializing in physics and astronomy, she has published over 1,000 articles. As a playwright working with composer Carl Pennypacker, she has written the book and lyrics for two musicals based on the lives of great individuals in modern science, focusing on their humanity and little known aspects of their lives. Their musical about Stephen Hawking, Falling Through a Hole in the Air, received a grant from Paul Newman's "Newman's Own" Foundation, and was produced a few years ago by San Francisco City College. Their new musical (about Einstein's "lost" daughter Liesel) is looking for a producer, and two book-length manuscripts of poetry, The Garden Spider and Sonnets from Aesop, are looking for a publisher. She also juggles a husband and two daughters.

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Image courtesy of NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)