That is the fifth of 9 installments within the 2021/2022 animated season of The Universe in Verse in collaboration with On Being, celebrating the surprise of actuality by tales of science winged with poetry. See the remaining right here.
THE ANIMATED UNIVERSE IN VERSE: CHAPTER FIVE
At any time when I’m down, I consider the gladiolus.
At any time when I ache with self-referential humanity — that evolutionary miracle of complicated consciousness that endows us with the capability for reflection and rumination on the root of all sorrow — I consider the gladiolus and its primal scream of coloration and its two-hundred-million-year triumph, ruled by insentient forces stretching again to the Huge Bang that bloomed a one thing out of the unimaginable nothingness.
I consider the gladiolus with its mohawk of blossoms — one-sided, bisexual, belonging to nature’s nonbinary citizenry: the “good flowers” — most of its 300 identified species native to Africa, to which we too are native. A fierce magnificence named after the Latin phrase for sword, identified generally as “sword lily,” linking it to the flower for which my mom was named. A blade of blossoms pollinated by tiny wasps and long-tongued bees and hawk-moths, after which by self-conscious sapiens with opposable thumbs — a chainlink of people holding fingers throughout the epochs from Mendel to the younger Puerto Rican lady on the Manhattan flower market, these generations of horticulturalists who hybridized and cultivated the small iridescent blossoms of the wild flower to make the towering blooms of stable purple and white and yellow in my Bulgarian grandmother’s backyard, on my Bulgarian grandfather’s coffin.
I consider the gladiolus, with which we share 98% of our DNA — that delicate association of atoms cast way back when all of them, yours and mine and the sword lily’s, banged into being 13.8 billion years in the past from a single supply, no bigger than the dot levitating over the small i, the I lowered from the pedestal of ego.
The younger poet Marissa Davis celebrates the atomic spirituality on this chainlink of kinship between us and every little thing alive in “Singularity (after Marie Howe)” — a poem impressed by “Singularity” (after Stephen Hawking),” which the gifted and golden-souled Marie Howe composed for and premiered at the second annual Universe in Verse in 2018, commemorating the not too long ago stardust-surrendered scientist who revolutionized our understanding of the universe by illuminating what occurs to a dying star because it collapses to kind a singularity — the tiny level of zero radius, infinite density, and infinite curvature of spacetime on the backside of a black gap, kindred to the Huge Bang singularity on the backside of the Starting — that authentic seed from which the universe bloomed.
Marie’s “Singularity” — which was reworked into a panoramic animated movie for the lockdown livestream of the 2020 present, a movie that impressed this experimental literary-animated “season” of The Universe in Verse within the interlude between stay gatherings — radiated throughout our Pale Blue Dot, finally reaching Marissa to spark her personal “Singularity” — an beautiful ode to our primeval bond with each other and the remainder of nature.
For this fifth installment within the interlude collection, in an homage to the intergenerational chainlink of inspiration from which all artwork is born, right here is Marissa’s “Singularity” animated into vibrant aliveness by English artist Lottie Kingslake and set to track by the cosmic life-force that’s Toshi Reagon.
by Marissa Davis
(after Marie Howe)
within the wordless starting
iguana & myrrh
magma & reef ghost moth
& the cordyceps tickling its nerves
& cedar & archipelago & anemone
dodo fowl & cardinal ready for its purple
ocean salt & crude oil now black
muck now most naïve fumbling plankton
each egg clutched within the copycat tender
of me unwomaned unraced
unsexed because the ecstatic prokaryote
that will rage my uncle’s blood
or the bacterium that can widow
your eldest daughter’s eldest son
my uncle, her son our mammoth solar
& her uncountable siblings & mud mite & peat
apatosaurus & nile river
& maple inexperienced & nude & chill-blushed &
yeasty keratined bug-gutted i & you
spleen & femur seven-year refreshed
seven-year shedding & taking & being this mud
& my kids & your kids
& their kids & the youngsters
of the black bears & gladiolus & pink florida grapefruit
right here not allied however the identical perpetual breath
held quick to one another as one another’s personal pores and skin
cold-dormant & rotting & birthing & being born
within the olympus of the smallest
attainable as soon as earlier than as soon as
Beforehand on The Universe in Verse: Chapter 1 (the evolution of life and the delivery of ecology, with Joan As Police Lady and Emily Dickinson); Chapter 2 (Henrietta Leavitt, Edwin Hubble, and the human starvation to know the cosmos, with Tracy Okay. Smith); Chapter 3 (trailblazing astronomer Maria Mitchell and the poetry of the cosmic perspective, with David Byrne and Pattiann Rogers); Chapter 4 (darkish matter and the thriller of our mortal stardust, with Patti Smith and Rebecca Elson).