Emerging from the tent at 3am,
you see this field of fools, that hedge, the sea,
all subtly lit by an array of stars
in numbers that your mind cannot compute.
They’re barnacles fixed on a dark flat rock,
and that faint streak of quartz marks other stars
too far to be distinguished one from one.
Each is a point, a dot of no dimension,
a chalk stab on a blackboard crammed with maths,
and still your brain insists that this big world
of fires and ice, its loves and hopes and lies,
its trillions of lives in millions
of forms would, in the heart of any star,
be in an instant crisped to kingdom come.
Mark Totterdell’s poems have appeared widely in magazines in the UK and have occasionally won competitions. His collections are This Patter of Traces (Oversteps Books, 2014) and Mapping (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2018).