Ordinary Matter by Alice Major

Poem title: Ordinary matter Poet: Alice Major Poem: I am yanking at clematis, pulling down the strands that have tangled into a tower of summer. Rapunzel’s tresses in reverse, hiding windows, billowing over into eavestroughs. Sails of leaves spread to catch sunlight, silky seedheads flare to catch at air. The sheer delight of taking up space. I stomp the stems into compression, packages that can be fed into the maw of orange plastic bags— that whole golden bower reduced to two puffy pillows for the back lane. And I think of how much smaller they could be, since matter is composed of so much empty space between spinning nucleus and distant echoing electrons. Ordinary matter makes up so little of the universe – swathes and filaments of plasma, a skiff of interstellar dust And yet these few percentage points of substance are determined to erupt into stars and clouds of gas and founts of coalescing molecules. The window hidden by the vine has now been cleared. My heart shouts Jump, Rapunzel! Jump into the arms of matter—trust to its enormous bounce. End of poem. Credits and bio: Copyright © Alice Major Previously published in Standard Candles,(University of Alberta Press, 2015). Alice Major has published 12 collections of poetry, most recently Welcome to the Anthropocene and Knife on Snow. She’s also the author of the essay collection, Intersecting Sets: A Poet Looks at Science. She served as the first poet laureate of her home city, Edmonton, and founded the Edmonton Poetry Festival. Her work has been recognized by many awards, provincial and national– most recently by the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Distinguished Artist Award, and an honorary doctorate of letters from the University of Alberta.