The Cosmos Revisited (Alicia Sometimes)

‘If we go far enough back, any two people on Earth
have a common ancestor’
Carl Sagan
I sit with a postcard that a friend has sent me from Izmir
flicking the corners with my thumbnail
listening to 'Mood Indigo',
whipping up theories on the beginning of life.
I think of myself
as I did when I was a child.
without earth, without space,
without time.
I once heard that if you read one book a week
for the rest of your life
you would be well versed, but
it is only one tenth
of one percent
of all the books, in all the libraries
in all the world.
This gave me a feeling of cosmic loneliness
of galactic togetherness.
I had written in a song to a lover:
'When you said you wanted space
I didn't think you meant the Milky Way.'
Time & space are fused.
It takes around seventy-five years
for the light of Corona Borealis to reach earth.
Each time we gaze at this constellation
we are looking at it
when Hubble was still demonstrating
the universe was larger than our solar system
when Sigrid Unset had won the Noble Prize for literature
voicing the words of a restless generation.
a time of jazz & lipstick & Art Nouveau.
My grandparents had barely known one another
still too shy to ask each out to a dance.
Imagine a time before the song 'Imagine'
imagine a time before nuclear power
a time before industry
science, libraries, before words.
a time of grunting & survival
a time before kisses & lodestars
before the neo-cortex, the limbic system
in the early days of the R-complex
before we could taste & smell
before sex was invented
when we were single cells
before rock was formed
before planets cooled
before matter
a time before time.
We are the stars’ junk & treasure.
with bad sit-coms, war,
physics problems, pimples before a date,
politics, the clandestine, famine,
cause & effect, neo-thermonuclear power,
cryogenics, gene manipulation, buildings,
backgammon, phone calls, parents, alchemy,
postcards, music & pursuit of meaning
these are just a few of the things
hydrogen atoms do
fifteen billion years of evolution