The Way It Is – A Poem by Rowe Williams

A. In The Beginning

We have discovered that the universe began,
long ago, in a singular unity.
Everything was one thing, one point, one
nothing. Until, suffocating in that sweet
primordium, everything exploded.

Something came from seemingly nothing.
And that emptiness poured out and out,
giving out of poverty, giving
out of a longing for existence.
Physicists know some things

are unknowable. What was before
that kamikaze explosion? Why did a 
universe suddenly come into being?
But the first question is nonsense because
it presupposes the existence of a knowable

before. The second is little better, assuming
that the universe could do anything else.
We only know that it happened,
and if it didn't there would be nothing to know.
The rest is history.

B. Consequences

Physicists now know that original explosion
never ceased, but has raged on
all these ages. The creation of the universe

came with a price. That furious,
manic bout of being couldn't be stopped.
So our universe continues

to push outward in exuberant vitality.
Not simply fleeing that abandoned unity,
but fleeing from everything at once.

The emptiness that birthed our universe
has metastasized to it, in a slow malignance
that has already determined its death.

Empty space breeds empty space,
finding our universe hospitable to such 
expansion. And the wedges

driven between us will grow
and grow
until there is nothing to hold us together.

C. Multiplicity

It is possible our universe
is not the only one. In fact,
it may be one of a virtually 
infinite number. That even the universe

that seeks to inconsequentialize our humanity
is itself inconsequential. Such hypotheses
straddle the line we have so fervently drawn
between physics and metaphysics, the two being

less different than is comfortable. And
as we look to find our place in the vastness,
that place shrinks before our eyes, inversely proportional
to the knowledge we hold so dear.

D. In and Out

As our universe attempts to compete
in its cosmic arms race,

we are left to wonder if things
could have been different, somehow.

Logically, there are three possible Fates,
as it was in Greek mythology, for the universe:

Expansion, Stagnation, and Contraction.
Our own universe seems set on the first.

But it's reassuring, in a way, to imagine
there are universes out there that embrace

the last option. They explode like ours,
in a frenzy of lebensraumism,

but then slow, reconsider, and are
drawn back together into that

original unity. Only to explode again,
in a universe-sized breathing exercise.

E. All Things Must End

There are those who call entropy
"the arrow of time," and thus
time is not simply something humans
can only observe in one direction,
but is truly directional.
That, after a fashion, entropy drives us
into the future, undeniably and inexorably, or,
as the thermodynamicist would say, "irreversibly."
Until that fated day comes
when entropy can increase no further,
and everything is homogeneously disordered.
When all "natural processes" have already occurred.
On that day God will pronounce the patient dead
and time will have nowhere to go.

F. Until Next Time

The universe shudders in its last
throes of life. In one regard, it is truly
The End of All Things.
In another, perhaps it is only
a new emptiness.

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