A Tale of Universal Relativity


This is a poem I wrote after reading the book shown above. I will post a review soon, but I really enjoyed it. I got it for my dad for Father’s day and we read it together.

A Tale of Universal Relativity

Can we, through the subtleties of poetry

discover the secrets of the universe?

of who we are and why we exist

if we even exist at all

If we look to the implications of modern physics

it seems to say that only nothing is real

that nothing

is real

that we live in an observer-dependent reality

negating the idea of of a True reality outside of us

not that we can’t observe it

but that it cannot exist


Who are we in the world of nothing

what then of our experiences

of life

of love

of hurt

and pain

and longing

and grief

of fear

and death

Is there a purpose behind the world of illusions

the world as we know it

according to each of us


There must be some sort of overlap

so that we can share a sense of understanding

of love

Maybe our emotions

or love

as Maya Angelou said

is what holds the stars in the sky


Maybe the world will end in fire

or possibly in ice

in the words of Robert Frost


Or maybe it will not end at all

if it never began

if it always has

and always will


And what of life

and of consciousness

and sleep

and dreams


I go to sleep at night, or sometimes day

and visit a different world

one very different, it seems, from the one I usually see

where things seems to overlap

boundaries are non-existent

and nothing is distinct

a fluid universe of probabilities

only vaguely remembered upon waking

I try to create a story

out of the fragments of my memory

the fragments of my fading dreams


We start out as a mixture of DNA

a blueprint for a being

encoded in strings of molecules

giving birth to a cell

which grows to form a baby

who is born into this strange evanescent world

where we learn of love

of hate

of pain

and hurt

but also of joy

and empathy

we have experiences

interpret them

allow them to shape our world


Once upon a time

my mom told me

she thought she was an alien

I have often felt that way myself

as if I am an observer

learning human ways

And maybe that’s true

that we are all observers

observing the worlds

of everyone around us


It has sometimes been hard to tell the difference

between my dreams and this reality

I seem to have a memory

sometime when I was small

of there being a wall inside of our apartment

just high enough to reach the windows

of course I know

it was never there

but the memory is so clear

and maybe it was there

an internal wall

built around me

that only I could see


My childhood memories are vague

my memories in pieces

shards whose edges have been rounded by time

or is it distance whose disappearance

causes its velocity to be undefined


I look at the child I used to be

all those years ago

now as an observer

an impossibility

my memories shaped

by the person I have become

the one I seem to look at

being somewhat different

from the me I was then

the me that I felt

from the inside


We live our lives from the inside

with only occasional glimpses from others

who have a more objective view

we are only ever able to approximate how we seem to others

interpreted back to us

through their eyes

their perspectives

their biases

because maybe

there is no ultimately objective view

and due to incompleteness

we cannot measure ourselves

but only know ourselves

as completely as possible

from the inside


Some may call this intuition

some of us are good at following it

some of us have yet to listen


There was a time when it saved my mother’s life

she had a feeling and decided to listen

unable to explain why

until we made it home

to find the window shattered

a bullet hole in the wall


She told me stories of how she left her body

saw it lying there on the bed

and how if someone had tried to wake her

she would not have been able to get back in


There was the time she found her grandmother

knocking at her door

coming to see the baby

born the day she died

fulfilling her earthly promise

to tell her granddaughter

what death was like

and restore the baby’s health

for whom no earthly treatment could cure


I was afraid for her before it happened

I could see the signs

She told me to trust her

she knew how to handle it

And I suppose

since she was the adult

I listened

but I was still scared

I was sure he had tried to kill her once before

and was just waiting

for another opportunity

It came a few days later

a week maybe

and I knew

when she didn’t come home that night

when I didn’t sleep waiting for the sound of the gate

but knowing every time

that it wasn’t her

she would not come


The next day at the police station

they did not take us seriously

said maybe she just left

I told them they didn’t know her

they said there was nothing they could do


I knew I had to find her

had to go back to that apartment

find out if the neighbors heard something

My brother went, since he had not been

but I found that I

could not sit idly by and wait

so I put on a disguise, changed my clothes, my hair

and went to join him

in our little escapade

a ruse to get inside


we knocked on every door

to no avail

no one wanted to talk to strangers

no one would come to their door

not until after we broke down the door

and found out what I had known all along

somehow now they opened their doors

for us to call 911


I remember the first few words of a note he left

I was not allowed to see the rest

I remember being afraid

that he would come after us too

they found him after a week

as he was about to be released

from the hospital after claiming to be hearing voices


Once upon a time

I kept my secrets to myself

kept my heart locked in a castle

only rarely allowing entry

to those I had given a key

never allowing them to see me

barely daring to enter myself


But maybe sometimes

it’s okay to open the door

to show you around

maybe it doesn’t have to be

a pandora’s box

where hope is the only thing

that cannot escape


As Emily Dickenson says

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

That perches in the soul –

And sings the tune without the words-

And never stops – at all

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