“M-Theory, or, A Piece for Eleven Strings,” by T.J. McLemore

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Poetry by T.J. McLemore from our Spring 2017 issue.


Where M stands for magic, mystery, or membrane, according to taste
— Edward Witten

Even the body, so impossibly tuned and tensioned:

all of us crimped, folded and thrumming just so, they say,

like a trillion trillion guitars or glass harmonicas, tiny

symhonies of sound—so why not metaphysics? and maybe

it was a lonely voice that started it all, a single word

that set everything to spinning out in ripples, these circles

we know so well: as all water ends up in the sea, for a time,

as the planets will spiral into their star, be turned to light

(so what is death but a change of state?)—and light, set free

in time, no instrument, no body, pushes back the void, still

humming whatever this song is we all run on, and run to


Image: Cross, Henri-Edmond. “Landscape with Stars.” Ca. 1905–1908. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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