The shape of the universe
Except perhaps the planting of a daffodil bulb. My daughter patting it into the earth. Its roots coil downward, birthing other bulbs. Ten of them, multiplied. Year on year.
It is said that if you plant a bulb in the ground and leave it there, next year you will have two. Leave them there – and the next year you will have four.
Twenty million, nine hundred and seventy one thousand, five hundred and twenty.
Since Grandpa gave those first ones to you.
But these are not daffodils. They are snow drops. Salvaged from my mother’s garden.
Slowly we plant them. I create the hole, scooping the soil. My daughter selects the bulb “this one” and posits it in the earth. We pat the soil. Dirt under our nails and in a line across her forehead. Clumped in her snow blond hair. A grin. Not unlike one I have seen before. Glowing. Sparkling. Radiating her spirit. Ours.
If I draw it, the diagram looks like this:
A continuous line and we are the dot on the line. Able, only to proceed forwards or backwards along the line. Consecutively. In both directions? The diagram assumes it, with arrows at both ends. Time travel. Forwards or backwards, consecutive in manner. If it is me, who is travelling according to this diagram, I cannot jump off and re-position myself in a different time. I can only move consecutively.
However, time behaves differently. It seems.
Time overlaps. The overlap can be felt, in a moment. In the experience of place.
I find myself in a hotel room. The same one, two years on. The botanical print identical. Native desert pea, its leafy hearth more prominent when viewed from the double bed directly below and not the top bunk across the room. Black eyelets against a velvety petal. The darkness in the room is the same. The dank carpet. At once I am between Binh Minh Vietnamese restaurant and a windowless waiting room at the Epworth. A wired current draws fusion of time through space.
A diagram of this would be more complex:
Visually, also like a coil, but one that intersects upon itself. Like a spring, elongated and squished. It can be compressed to touch the past in multiple places. And, in just one moment I can travel back and forth between the present and the past until time is pulled forward again, the spring stretching apart and I no longer touching that past moment. Travelling again, in consecutive fashion along the line of the spring. The loop is varied in length and width, making certain instances less reachable and so on, according to the fall of the loop. I travel along the line of each new loop as it coils round, upward and onward, until it is squished again.
I wonder, could the spring grow long enough so as to meet top to tail, in a full circle? What then of me? Would that become the endless springing loop that is my life eternal? Oh God!
A bird’s vision, can be represented as follows:
The bird is a common blackbird (a Sylvia bird, as we called them) perhaps one of Sylvia’s babies, babies.
She sees this way, as she flies the coil of her life in one direction. And then when the spring of things squishes just so, the bird sees the reflection of herself in a moment. Collecting a piece of dried grass for her nest. A nest in which she will raise her little ones and from which they will first fly. And then make their own nests. Over and over and over again, as the spring coils.
In comparison, human field of vision, can be drawn as follows:
The left and right eye observe more or less of their environment according the species. According to the placement of the eye in the head. In the case of the human, they are orientated in the front of the head. If we consider the coil of time, in relation to field of vision, could perhaps the shape of time, its size, breadth, or profile, differ also between species. Would the coil I have drawn for human time be identical to that of a blackbird? Does each of us, even as individual humans, have a different shaped coil? But then how to explain moments shared, in time and in space? Do we travel the same coil and stretch and touch at the same points, or rather are we many coils, intersecting, swaying. Some forever intertwined. Coiled together. Tied up. Knotted, messed up. Tangled.
This is a drawing of my grandpa, my mother, myself and my daughter:
And then I draw all of my family and friends and colleagues and neighbours and so on, and add pets and birds and local cats and the dog on the beach and fish in the sea. Etcetera. And then we get a picture of the whole of humanity and animal kind.
And it is viewed from so high up that looks like a blob. Or a coil of stardust. A solar system. A universe. Sparkling in the darkness.
Bethany Rawson | is a writer based near Melbourne, Australia. Her recently published fiction appears in Westerly magazine, and in 2015, her work was shortlisted for the Queensland University of Technology Postgraduate Writing Prize.