Computer Chip

This entry is part 31 of 34 in the series Small World


This is our tilled ground, our garden of forking paths. I picture its millions of transistors blinking, its mono-crystal silicon wafers pulsing as information courses like sap through the photolithographic veins, parsed by logic gates, blended by multiplexers. I know this isn’t quite what happens, but I keep trying to imagine it: how roots link up with roots & what leaps between them. How layers thinner than paper overlap like pages in a book that writes & re-writes itself, or like the sedimentary crust of a living planet. I know it’s not alive, that it is closer to a map than a landscape, & that in trying to re-purpose old templates I fall far short. But something about its stark dualism — the closed 1, the open 0 — & all it can gather in fills me with awe. The integrated circuit is my shepherd. I shall not want.


This entry is part 32 of 34 in the series Small World


The first thimble was the tanned hide
of an enemy’s thumb. Whisky
had yet to be invented, but
needles were employed as lances
in desperate finger-to-finger combat.
Battlefields were so numerous,
they were stacked into other battlefields
like Russian dolls. Soon, brass
was pressed into use, & one armorer
began dimpling the surface
to ward off smallpox.
Prostitutes made their Johns (then
still called Jacks) wear thimbles
on every finger, because who knew
where those hands had been?
Meanwhile they were measuring ale
with the horns of bulls. Guts
were spilling from unprotected abdomens.
If you didn’t want a sorceror’s tongue,
you couldn’t stare open-mouthed
at the pock-marked moon.


This entry is part 33 of 34 in the series Small World


(Lens culinaris)

Until the lentil lent
its Latin name, the lens
went unknown among us,
despite being the apple
of our eyes. Now it is
the legume that lags
in popularity:
we’re more apt to wonder
what microscopic folk
might be peering blindly
up from the soup,
& suspect every
lenticular cloud
of hiding a flying saucer
from the distant bulging disc
of an armless galaxy.


This entry is part 34 of 34 in the series Small World


At first, in the fallopian tubes,
the zygote is little more
than a clump: morula,
named for its resemblance
to a mulberry.
Then fluid fills it
like a balloon, a whole
lot of nothing.
That’s when the mother’s
body moves it
& it takes root in the womb.

This is the call & response
of matrix & matter:
for creative work to happen
you need that opening
without & within.
The stem cells form,
ready for anything.


I think this may be the last post in the Small World series. (If you’re reading via RSS or email, here’s the link to the whole series.)