Portrait in 4D

 Picturing things in four dimensions—
Gears, shafts, sprockets, chains,
All sizes, shapes, thicknesses interlocked
Pushing, pulling, spinning every direction—
This was my father’s claim to imagination.

 Not the fantasy realms of my youth—
Magic rings, heroes with radioactive powers,
Warfare of men with gods, with aliens—
Though he did read some science fiction,
The hard kind, worlds and inventions
The what-if variants of known laws.

 Certainly not the enigmas of UFOs,
Out-of-body-experiences, mystic visions—
Fakes, hallucinations, faulty science
He would always declare, nothing
Beyond what we sense and measure.

 As for religions and life-after-death,
He’d studied holy books, saw social sense
In moral injunctions, but thought all else
A sop for minds too weak to cope
With what is here and that it ends.

 When young he tried systems
Of self-improvement, was convinced
Only logic cures the unknown,
That all should be shown this. Later
He returned to his tinkering with engines,
His plans for infinitely-variable gearboxes,
Which never left the drawing board,
Followed my interest in the paradoxes
Of light, gravity, quantum forces,
But laboured to fathom them,
Became a time-and-motion expert.

 After his wife of over fifty years died,
He began using crystal pendulums
To contact her, announced he had
The healing touch, though no one felt
A thing, tried to read books on time
And consciousness, his glass of whisky
Refilled always, no matter doctor’s orders,
And sometime after lunch would settle
For diversions on TV, the mechanisms
Of DVDs and Cable far beyond him,
His vision winding down, winding down.

Earl Livings

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