Galaxy Palace

by Gwyneth Lewis

In the Alhambra
they depicted stars
in the ceiling of the Sala de la Barca.

January tourist, I stand beneath
looking at my stuccoed breath
expand like a galaxy. Outside

pavilions shed shadows of filigree –
lace for the ancient marriage of light
with stone. The first to wear away is stone.

Another palace, and a vault
drips one star down to five thousand points
reflected in a considerate pool,

steeped in Islamic cosmology.
The inside of particles are written in stars
which look poetic but speak pure maths    

over and over, like the Arabic
inscriptions on the patios.
I pause and read in a shower of rays

raining invisibly: "I am a slave
in the kingdom of seeing. But I want to be
in the caliphate of gravity, 

rippling through the visible's pool.
I want to feel that energy.
After all, I’m the perfect black body."


Astronomy Tutorial

You tell me that darkness is just light
that hasn't happened yet; that stars
are quantum jitters written very large
and gravity can act as sight.

You teach me the physics of energy.
It leaves me weak. The skies
are whispering maths. I hadn't realised:
we’re learning fluent Galaxy.


Gwyneth Lewis
Commissioned by the School of Physics and Astonomy, Cardiff University