1. There is nothing soft in the universes.

2. There wasn’t at the start, certainly, unless you count the unexpected wobble that got us going to be some sort of expression of care from a creator we will never see nor hear from ever again.

3. All the energy unleashed becoming skids of hot gas becoming swirls of hot rock having what we will later describe as celestial pub fights, no there is no softness there.

4. And look how we use words which we claim to be ‘soft’ to try and disguise the fundamental nature of the cosmos – the sibilance of ‘celestial’, the gentle propulsion of ‘helios’ – all attempts to hide the heat, the violence, the anger of atoms raging at us.

5. Atoms aren’t soft; their giving nature is their power; the bonds they make can always – demand to – be broken.

6. Think further, upon the chance of life. Single cells, machines for gas processing, nestled into crevice or atmospheric cauldron. What softness in these unthinking biological charms?

7. Membranes might be permeable, molecules offer themselves to you with a sly generosity; but these are not things of softness.

8. These are tricks, so the machines can go on, perpetuate.

9. In fact, the universes as they stand are suspicious of softness. Gravity, forces, mechanics. Hard ideas, to keep things in place, to make sure they move as they should.

10. Because without them, things would fall down.

11. Which is why softness is an illusory rebellion, a one-off trick perpetuated by apes that got lucky to convince themselves that they can be comfortable on a rock floating through a void towards a compression point, a contraction, an ending.

12. Softness is an alien.

13. Cherish it as it bursts out of us, comforts us, then destroys us, returns us to the cool and unknowing cosmic vibrations.

13.8 And do not pity me as I bend our universes, knit them into a sheer gown to wrap around me, a sheath into the future.



A member of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen, Rishi Dastidar’s poetry has been published by Financial Times, New Scientist and the BBC amongst many others. His debut collection Ticker-tape is published in the UK by Nine Arches Press, and a poem from it was included in The Forward Book of Poetry 2018. He tweets @BetaRish