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Seven Sugar Cubes

On 10th April, 1901, in Massachusetts, Dr. Duncan MacDougall set out to prove that the human soul had mass and was measurable. His findings concluded that the soul weighed 21 grams.

When your mother phones to tell you that your father has died
ten thousand miles away, visiting your emigrant brother,
in a different hemisphere, in a different season,
do you wonder if your father’s soul will be forever left in summer?

Do you grapple
with the journey home of the body of a man you have known
since you were a body in your mother’s body?

Does the news melt into you and cool to the image
of his remains in a Tasmanian Blackwood coffin, in the body of a crate
in the body of a plane? Or do you place the telephone receiver back on its cradle,
take your car keys, drive the winter miles to your father’s field, where you know
his horses will run to the rattle, like dice, of seven sugar cubes.

 

(first published in The Irish Times, April 8th, 2017)