As I stand in line at the fishmongers, waiting to pay for Dolores’ oysters, a woman walks by and all the mens’ heads turn as if slapped.
When we were younger, men used to watch Dolores’ face wistfully when she walked, as if imagining her 200 pounds lighter. But most men know nothing of the joys of flesh; they experiment with bone and sinew, the barest of sensual pleasures. Spread out in my bed, Dolores is my wilderness. At 373 pounds, her body is a miracle of engineering: when Dolores moves in space, each must bend to accommodate the other. Loose floorboards groan ecstatically and bow under her step. Her appetites are compassionate: if she could, she would rid the world of evil by incorporating it into her own sweet folds and substance.
Dolores, everything you consume, everything around you, is improved as it incorporates into your splendid body. Your gluttony is devotional; your capacity for consumption saintly. Your rich weight binds me to the earth.
When I come downstairs, James is bouncing on the balls of his feet and tapping his phone against his leg. He hears me and turns. Our anniversaries have always lit him up, but now he is nearly incandescent.
“The guys in the Antarctic might have found something,” he says.
“Well, evidence of them. Polarization. They haven’t even announced it yet, they probably won’t for a month or more— they still need to run the numbers to be sure. But it’s... it’s huge. The closest we’ve gotten.”
At this moment, nine thousand miles away, a group of scientists is reading thirteen-billion-year-old cosmic microwave radiation, traces of light left over from the moment the universe first cooled down enough to grow transparent; the moment light first moved through the universe. And it looks like that ancient light, from the first moments of creation, was shaped by gravity. If they are correct, they’re proving that gravity moves in waves, like light or sound; they’re showing us the shape of space-time itself. They’re giving us proof that the universe is as Einstein saw it: a gravitational wave-sky, its stretched fabric dimpled and stippled by greater and lesser masses. Proof that brings us one step closer to a unified theory of physics. Of course, we cannot see the gravitational wave itself— only evidence that it exists. Still, it’s enough.
What is at stake is the understanding, for good and all, of gravity— the force that brings bodies together; that keeps them there.
Beside me, Dolores sleeps all in shadow as the sun rises. Even if they have found evidence of gravitational waves, it is still only a step toward discovering evidence of the graviton, the last hypothetical elementary particle, the last piece of the puzzle, the last indivisible thing.
Now more than ever, the graviton hovers between being and non-being. Leibnitz once called zero “a fine and wonderful refuge of the divine spirit—almost an amphibian between being and non-being.” I admire this biologic turn of phrase. I myself have always had a cruder vision of zero; that of a stochastic sphincter that grows and shrinks, in proportion to its desired role and always in danger of insiding-out. If 0 is the ultimate orifice, 1 is the first appendage and all biology rests on binary code.
Katie Farris is the author of boysgirls, (Marick Press, 2011), a hybrid form text which has been lauded as “truly innovative,” (Prague Post), and “a little tour de force” (Robert Coover). She’s a co-editor of Gossip and Metaphysics: Russian Modernist Poems and Prose (Tupelo Press, 2014), and has also co-translated several books of poetry from the French, Chinese, and Russian. Her translations and original work have appeared in anthologies published by Penguin and Greywolf, as well as literary journals including Virginia Quarterly Review, Western Humanities Review, and Hayden’s Ferry Review. She received her MFA in Literary Arts from Brown University. Currently, she is an Associate Professor at the MFA program at San Diego State University as well as a core faculty member at New England College’s MFA program.