Ibn al Haytham - The First Scientist - Alhazen - Ibn al Haitham - Alhacen  


,as I ran around Phelan Lake,
listening to “Morning Edition”
on my portable headphones,
I was suddenly cut off
from the voice of Bob Edwards
and spirited aboard a UFO.

The aliens placed me
against the smooth, black wall
of their on-board laboratory,
taking care to keep my head in an air pocket
above the amber fluid
in which they worked.
Like human microsurgeons,
they slipped their tentacles through the pores of my scalp
and fissures in my cranium
and began to probe the contents of my brain,
causing every image and sensation of my life
to flash through me, utterly
out of sequence: I got married
before my first communion;
held my newborn son
then saw him off to kindergarten;
had lunch with my paternal grandfather
after he was buried. They had me repeat
every conversation, rehearse every song,
recite every text to which I’d ever been exposed.
I spoke Hamlet’s lines and George Jetson’s,
sang muffler jingles and Schubert lieder,
quoted the Bible, chapter and verse,
and tabloid headlines from the grocery rack.

The entire ordeal lasted about four and a half minutes.

In the next thirty seconds, they taught me
their language and showed me
a kind of theater of timelessness
in which no event precedes another,
but, coeval, coexist
in permanent simultaneity,
like a burst of fireworks suspended
in the night sky, each spark and particle
possessing a location and magnitude
from which the past can be inferred
and in which the future is clearly implied.

No sooner had I witnessed this
elaborate pageant of stasis
than I was instantly returned to the asphalt path,
a few minutes behind schedule, exhausted,
without a soul on earth to talk to.

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Copyright © 2008 by Bradley Steffens

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