Principles of Entropy

Forgetting the Future Entropy in the Reflective Age Opening Reception —  Torrance Art Museum

Shelagh M. Rowan-Legg

Principles of Entropy


press your ear against
the Egyptian cotton sheet
you will hear the universe
gravitating towards expansion

each of the thousand threads
straining against this
forced dissipation

let your head lay across
your lover’s chest
the universe will pull him away
in its own time


each cell of the body
is Schrödinger’s cat
unaware of its fate
they crowd against each other
as bodies in rush hour subways
hot and tired and anxious


five trillion atoms
could fit on the head of a pin
so I take a small knife
and divide my heart
into as many pieces
to refit into a newer
smaller space


it is
to determine
simultaneously both
and movement
with certainty

not the waves of the ocean but the waves of space
not suitable for drowning but for carrying
into the flat velvet black
you are crushed and each part of your body touches the other
toes against elbows back against knees


the bird pecks his beak
the flat velvet black
mistakes it
for a sheet of seeds
particles fall
of wind
stripping them
essentiality and


keep a record
of the swings of a pendulum
the timing of each swoosh
will decide everything

future is determined
by hands that reach
between each tick
reach the wrong time
and they return empty
thirty two million swings too late


Shelagh M. Rowan-Legg is a Toronto-born, London-based writer and film journalist. She is writing her PhD on the contemporary Spanish fantastic film. Her work is published in literary journals such as Taddle Creek and Potterfield Portfolio, and recent anthologies Catechism: Poems for Pussy Riot and Drifting Down the Lane.

Image Credit:  Exhibition notice: “Forgetting the Future Entropy in the Reflective Age” (The Torrance Art Museum), curated by Lisa DeSmidt.

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