The Effects


from The Catalogue of the Universe

To see the gods withdraw,
dethroned, exposed to ridicule,
was our allotted truth –
and not without its suffering.

They weren’t dislodged
by other, stronger gods:
they simply came to nothing.
That line of enquiry closed.

With space-time there are rules
on how to leave completely:
accrete, accrete, be massive,
wait, grow obsolete, begin

to shrink, speed up, cave in,
collapse and vanish –
and amid the photographs
of supergiants, red dwarfs,

the neon spiral nebulae,
is this rudimentary study done
with a compass and a pencil:
Black Hole (Artist’s impression).

In modern death no light escapes.
You cannot see it only note
the wobble of the bodies
on their axes, in their orbits.

In Cookstown District Cemetery
hundreds pack the graveside till
mid-hymn, a dog gets free:
the animal I cannot see

only how the faces turn,
one-by-one and radiant,
to watch the mongrel running
masterless among them.

from Go Giants (Faber, 2013), © Nick Laird 2013, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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