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Search Janus Head               

Patricia Monaghan

[pmonagha@wppost.depaul.edu]

Observations of Schroedinger's Cat 

When I’m in the box, 
what I hear mostly is 
the sound of my own body: 
little rifflings, twisted 
roars, sometimes a whirr. 
And smell, I notice that: 
my own warm smell 
I mean--the box is thick, too 
thick for anything outside 
to make its way to me. 

I can feel, too, the edges 
of my body, my claws 
with their uneven points, 
my hard paws, my little 
antennae whiskers. I know 
I am spotted, black and white, 
because I can feel the tiny 
difference between my colors: 
black like putty or molasses, 
white slicker, like paint, 
against my sandy tongue. 

There’s nothing to do here 
but play with the device-- 
the little poison toy that 
you imagine I ignore-- 
and so I do. I roll it over 
and over, press my nose 
against it, even toss it 
in the air now and again. 
My fate is randomly controlled. 
And so I play. I might as well. 

Of course I grow hungry 
and thirsty, but these 
experiments are brief, 
I’m out in time for meals. 
And then I’m at the dish 
instantly, and you think 
I’m not listening as 
you talk about my life, 
the way you have created 
me, the way I’m only here 
because you witness me, 
and when I arch my back 
and purr, and you stroke me 
and think I’m ignorant while 
you are not: I’m laughing 
at your theories. Really, 
you have missed it all. 

Put this into your formulae: 
I can see myself in risky 
darknesses, I am my own 
witness to my life, I do 
not live or die because 
you watch. Put this in too: 

sometimes my solitude expands 
the space between the nucleus 
and electrons of every atom 
until I am vast, floating cloudlike 
over you, watching you go about 
your other experiments, floating 
over the ocean like a hurricane, 
floating out into space, observing 
everything at the same instant. 

And if one day you find me 
dead in my little box, you will 
never know what that means, 
whether I am gone like a snuffed 
light, or whether I am still 
roving among the still stars.