wordsout by Godfrey Rust                                       Welcome To The Real World  58 of 59 →  HOME    


line of focus

Postmodern

Science with the brakes gone
careers through our mental undergrowth 

leaving a trail of trampled world-views.
Each new release of the mind’s operating system  

is incompatible with the last. Language
follows science at the unsafe distance  

of too many generations—words,
set spinning by Copernicus,  

pulled down to earth by Newton,
made relative by Einstein, are uncertain now  

as quantum mechanics, exploded by Hubble into
an infinite number of possible forms, each syllable  

moving away from its companion
at breakneck speed. Our grasp  

of meaning loosens, the normal tools of language
are cast aside, and cannot hold 

the delicately fractured syllogisms or predict
the consequences of this status quo  

where cause becomes effect, the universe
an echo of David Hume’s reluctant laughter. Darwin,  

Marx, Freud and Wittgenstein, this church of latter-day
saints who thought they had destroyed it 

find they have only ripped off more of the mask
of time’s accretions, helping us to see  

that face in all its unfamiliarity—
the face of God in a set  

of perfect numbers—one and zero,
all or nothing, formless and empty, darkness 

on the surface of the deep, the Spirit hovering
over the waters
—falling in a rain of superstrings  

under whose downpour our pedestrian words
huddle against drowning like dumb creatures 

safe in their ark of paradox. Close to the end
or the beginning we are not surprised to find  

myth and mathematics the only languages
we are able to comprehend, the blank equations   

sprawling across infinite whiteboards to where
the text of Genesis awaits its final discovery.