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To the History of Science Museum they come
Asking to see Einstein’s blackboard
With its precious scrapings of chalk
Still preserved over seventy years.
There’s magic in a thing just left
That makes exhibits under glass, the antique, ordinary.
We wish that it would speak.
What we seek is action set in amber.
In rickety garden-shed, long time deserted,
See half-torn seed-packets, sieved soil, discarded trowel.
Or in a study where the great man worked,
The desk, the pen, the pipe, all the armoury of toil.
Artists sometimes depict the moment of death.
“See the face transfixed, eyes fixed on …. what?”
Dylan too, still playing in the park,
Has his gaze upon the ball not yet reached ground.
In leopard’s leap and cobra’s strike, time freezes,
An almost animal instinct known and shared.
Such moments are rehearsals for last breath,
Last leap into that which we call death;
Where time, stripped of its pretence,
That huge presumption of the really real,
Admits to subterfuge, a stay too long,
And lets the just left, wend its endless way.
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