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Sally Ashton

Poems from Listening to Mars

Quantum Theory

Lost against a backdrop of stars, lost all daily notion of now, zero
gravity, time's experience warped by my spectator approach, do
you feel it, the continuum, how relativity accepted must link to
quantum theory, the theory behind the smallest actions in the
universe impossible to comprehend but possible to imagine through
thought experiments otherwise known as poems. Otherwise not
languageable though scientists say it explains practically everything.
I hope it speaks to someone. And if there are no further questions,
will it suffice to find words that make the world look like what it
feels like? I can't tell over Zoom, one man listening from a garage,
others don't turn on their videos. Someone else arrives too late to

care. But I have a wristwatch now. It follows the moon.

Space Walk

Outside the spacecraft tethered by barely a thread, the astronaut
swims in a sea of nothing far from any knowns, swaddled like an
infant must be, flung out for science, for discovery, for repairs. A
frontier, always what's next part of a grand adventure, home a
frangible concept ever-rippling outward with her, unmoored in
concentric circles. She's given herself to them, to the challenge,
sometimes horror to see so much so clearly where she floats in low
earth orbit traveling 28,000 kilometers per hour. An eerie stillness
circling Earth every ninety minutes, enormous planet suspended in spacetime
as she is suspended waiting to climb back aboard. Her
life, hurtling through that vacuum, not flat as the world was once

believed to be, even her DNA changing.

O celestial body, one of us, we peer beyond the edges of the cracked-
ceiling world acquainted with the dark, speeding toward uncertainty,

slipping the margins of time.

Quantum Leap

Startled bluebird swoop

from feeder to post what

wingbeats blueredblur how

describe that instant

between here and not

the jump itself minor

in time and space a shock

in existence not presence

nor absence an interlude

of being probable like between

systole and diastole call it

beating one nanosecond

begun at some point will

stop hand on my breast

not mechanical synapse

like thought the not

known before I write

the next word the birdfeeder

waits at the heart of the

Universe possibility hovers

Sally Ashton is a writer, teacher, and editor of DMQ Review, an online journal featuring poetry and art. Author of four books, her fifth collection, Listening to Mars, is forthcoming in 2024, from Cornerstone Press. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies and is headed to the Moon in 2024 with the Lunar Codex project. She lives in Los Gatos, California. For more, see

— posted January 2024

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