Broadside #51 (Summer 2018 / 18.4)
Powers of Ten
Even the background stars. Even the background. Stars will appear. Background stars will appear. To converge. Stars back and ground appears. To ground appears. Appear, star! To will, even back to stars. Converge, will and stars, appear ground.
We pause to start back home.
Back we start.
This emptiness is normal.
We approach. The surface of the hand, skin, layers, vanish. In turn, we approach. Skin layers turn. Vanish, surface approach. Vanish, background stars.
We pause to converge. Back home, we vanish. Stars ground emptiness. We even stars. We appear normal.
We appear normal. We even stars. Stars ground emptiness. Back home, we vanish. We pause to converge. Vanish, background stars. Vanish, surface approach. Skin layers turn. In turn, we approach. The surface of the hand, skin, layers, vanish. We approach. This emptiness is normal. Pause. Back we start. Home. We pause to start back home. Converge, will and stars, appear ground. To will, even back to stars. Appear, star! To ground appears. Stars back and ground appears. To converge. Background stars will appear. Stars will appear. Even the background. Even the background stars.
Author’s commentary: There is a very short film I love to use when I run writing workshops encouraging people to take science as inspiration. It’s called “Powers of Ten,” and it was made in 1977 by the Eames Brothers for IBM. I don’t want to tell you too much more about it other than it’s 9 minutes long. It’s about everything in the universe, and it’s incredibly odd and wonderful! I tend to make my workshop participants watch it twice – once just for the sheer pleasure and weirdness of it, the second time to take some notes or start writing something inspired by the images, the ideas, the words used in the deeply strange voiceover, even the music. I try and write in my own workshops too, and although I’ve seen this film many times now, it never fails to spark something, and the above is one of those somethings. I won’t explain it, partly because what it might be about to me is not what it might be about to you, and I won’t label it – poetry? Prose? Science writing? A hybrid, all of the above? I’m delighted that it’s found a home. Thank you to the Blue Fifth Review for the invitation!
(If you like, you can watch “Powers of Ten” here.)
Tania Hershman’s third short story collection, Some Of Us Glow More Than Others, was published by Unthank Books in May 2017, and her debut poetry collection, Terms and Conditions, by Nine Arches Press in July of 2018. Tania is also the author of a poetry chapbook, Nothing Here Is Wild, Everything Is Open, and two short story collections, My Mother Was An Upright Piano, and The White Road and Other Stories, and co-author of Writing Short Stories: A Writers’ & Artists’ Companion (Bloomsbury, 2014). Tania is curator of short story hub ShortStops, celebrating short story activity across the UK and Ireland, and has a PhD in creative writing inspired by particle physics. Hear her read her work online and find out more here.