Dark Matter Haunts Us

Ann K. Schwader

Dark Matter Haunts Us

Dark matter haunts us, night by night,
implacable as Marley’s chains,
equations never coming right.

That meager five percent our sight
perceives? All real, yet more remains –
dark matter haunts us. Night by night,

it tugs at galaxies despite
our efforts to ignore the strain,
equations never coming right

without its specter. Lacking light
to guide our dim mammalian brains,
dark matter haunts our nights.  By night,

we mean the mysteries we write
our lives against that don’t explain
equations never coming right

or people dying. Why invite
false hope? Some truths cannot be feigned:
dark matter haunts us, night by night,
equations never coming right.


Ann K. Schwader‘s next collection of dark verse is forthcoming from Weird House Press in 2020.  Her poems have recently appeared in Spectral Realms, Dreams & Nightmares, Star*Line, Abyss & Apex, and Weird Fiction Review. Her most recent collection, Dark Energies (P’rea Press 2015) was a Bram Stoker Award Finalist.  She was the SFPA Grand Master for 2018.

Backstory: As a fan of cosmic horror, I’m fascinated by the darker side of science. Like a ghost, dark matter cannot be seen, but makes itself unquestionably evident. It explains the inexplicable, but cannot be rationally accounted for. We go through our lives suspecting that we’re missing most of what’s really going on, and dark matter suggests that this is entirely true. I chose the villanelle form—or perhaps it chose me—for this poem due to the obsessive nature of the problem. The online article that inspired this poem can be found here: EarthSky, Feb. 23, 2020 “What is dark matter?”  https://tinyurl.com/yyyzlpu8

Editor’s Notes and Image credit: For the Villanelle: the equations in the image are for the density distribution of dark matter and were taken from a paper in The Astrophysical Journal, “Properties of Galactic Dark Matter: Constraints from Astronomical Observations,” B. Burch and R. Cowsik (https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/0004-637X/779/1/35). They are superimposed on an artist simulation of dark matter halo around the Milky Way galaxy’s own backyard. Credit: NASA, ESA, and T. Brown and J. Tumlinson (STScI) https://blog.nationalgeographic.org/2013/06/11/smallest-galaxy-ever-discovered-bolsters-dark-matter-theory/

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