2018 Poetry Competition joint winner: “A Divorcee Talks Through Block Universe Theory” by Rowena Cooper

 

“If we inhabit a block universe, all the parts of our life are fully and equally real. […] we are four-dimensional beings, possessing lives which extend through time in much the same way our bodies extend through space.”  Barry Dainton

 

If you can accept that time is as relative as space

then try a taste of this cordial.

It’s real orange, I promise.

If you can accept that time is as relative

as space, then it’s really the matter

of a ground-floor flat,

plus contents.

If you can accept that time is

as relative as space,         then you can keep the sofa,

because I’ve looked behind it

and found your lamented tweed scarf

which reeked of fox when it rained,

and that mouthful-shaped stain

from the one time we dared

your brother’s bathtub homebrew,

and a played-out CD of Billy Joel’s

And so it goes.              A decade

of shed hairgrips, like hundreds and thousands

but bigger, caking the carpet       and dear, old Chairman Meow, one solar-powered paw

beckoning behind the closed doors                      of a wardrobe

in that duck-egg colour I love,

and you didn’t,                                      and you loved and I did too. Look,

don’t you think it’s easier to accept

there’s polished floorboards behind that sofa

(which we could have at least discussed),

as well as paving stones, tidal water,

straw strewn over the muck

where a child in deer hide    shakes a cup of bone dice,    next to a butterflied suitcase

brim with wet-stemmed carnations,

an astrolabe, snuff, Venus figurines,

a Golden Duck

menu – all of it

behind our two-person sofa –

than that you could genuinely discriminate

between         fresh orange juice

and concentrate

by a hot tingle at the nub of your skull?

But I accepted that, eventually.

And if you could agree that time

is just as relative as space,

there would be every fucking atom there ever was,          and, yes,

one slice of all this,

is the two of us               together somehow

perched on one cardboard box,

mugs of “freshly squeezed” orange juice between our knees,

my fingers pressed to the top

of your neck, both balancing,

both balancing.

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