1,000 ångströms

Swedish scientist Anders Ångström circumnavigated the world for three years in the mid-nineteenth century.

On board a royal frigate, he looked for light, magnetic fields, and a way to measure the space between atoms. 

1

Anders woke;

 

               a wave 

 

                              the length of 

 

              three 

                       solid 

                                bars               (held in Paris)

 

                               rattled his skin along its frequencies

                  Inside 

 

frost had found                                                   sub atomic specters

10

Anders woke;

 

                              the warship: still, haunting                                                          an iceberg under aurora

                              had its sails pitched a fever

                                                                              for her majesty

                                                                             At the helm, clouds scattered before Turner, Captain

taking in                  the red

                 Plinian 

particles

                 of an early erupted dawn

100

Anders woke;

light divided cold air,

                                                                       dead time,

                                                                 trapped in prisms

As the berth shook 

 it relieved Anders of molecules that were not his, 

                                                                                        but of stars, once again

The sun

would see,

radiant,

how ice              swallowed whole

              its rays

1,000

Anders woke;

peered beyond the pane 

                                           of the single

                                                      steel

                                                      oval 

            that struggled 

                    to contain                his heresy

Needles dropped in water,

filings strewn on paper,

described concentric circles

that did not,             reveal

that could not,         reveal                                                              his true North

lost

in layers of frost, rime and dirt

10,000

Anders woke;

felt the space between cells

Expanding lanes that congested

       breath;

erased his presence;

save for magnets

that reeled in white whales

in the minds of mariners,

                            wary

of fields

they could not see,

or touch,

for the life of them

100,000

Anders woke;

wave-lengths frequenting his sleep

had spied

the bare hull

            of a body

          submerged

 

          in glacial embrace -

       

unabating,

indifferent

to charged colors

or global circumvention

Cold

to histories that pass

           in the lagging                            hours of night

©  Photochrom prints - c. 1890-1900 - Spitsbergen, Norway | Courtesy of the Library of Congress | Prints and Photographs Division | Lot 13432

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