Pick up the tube, hold it to your eye 
          as if searching for a pirate ship. 
Inside these three mirrors fragments 
          of memories 
re-arrange themselves endlessly. 
Your son, the light catching his hair 
          like a halo, late winter. 
The smooth quick movements as you 
          polish the lenses. 
The chemical burn in your eyes, 
          the dark for months on end. 
Let light pass through you 
          until you don’t know what is 
big and what is small. 
          This is the world now, the whole world. 
Through a kaleidoscope, from the brokenness 
          a whole could emerge. We look in, 
our backs to the truth as if it were our own sun. 

Making tea in the universe

Have a look in the pantry. 
you’ll need to gather up everything 
there is, every particle 
of matter between you and me and the 
edge of creation. Now squeeze it 
into a dot so infinitesimally
compact that it has no 
There is no apron to stand behind. 
There is no space, no darkness 
for this pregnant dot to wait in. 
There is no past for it 
to emerge from, no egg timer. 
The tea leaves are in the pot, 
put the kettle on, light the gas. 
In the first second 
the dot has space. 
Magnets fall from the fridge 
as you get the milk out. 
In the first minute your universe 
is a million billion miles across 
and growing fast. 
There are 10 billion degrees of heat. 
The kettle is boiling by the third 
minute and 98 per cent 
of all the matter that is 
or ever will be has been 
created. Pour the tea to brew 
while you wait 
for life on earth. 


Helen Heath blogs at helenheath.com and writes poetry and essays. Her poetry has been published in many journals in New Zealand, Australia and the USA. She completed an MA in Creative Writing at the IIML in 2009. Helen’s chap-book of poems called Watching for Smoke was published by Seraph Press in 2009. Her first full length book, Graft, will be published in 2012 by VUP.‘

Making tea in the universe’ is a partially found poem inspired by Bill Bryson’s description of the Big Bang in his Short History of Nearly Everything, (Black Swan, 2004) in which he describes the creation of the universe happening in the time it takes to make a sandwich. This poem won the inaugural ScienceTeller Poetry Award in 2011.