I am looking for a specific poem I read years ago. It was a poem on relativity and theories on the universe. I do not remember the author but I know she was female and either Spanish or Portuguese. The poem starts off with a large run-on monologue of things that are existing. Atoms on your skin, the rocks in the pockets that sunk Virginia Woolf, and other small things scaling up to big grand things too. It talks about time and existence hanging in a balance like a spider on an invisible thread.

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    Was the poem in English? Where are you likely to have read it?
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 18:27

1 Answer 1


It's not really a poem, and the author is Bulgarian rather than Spanish or Portuguese, but I think this question refers to the opening of Figuring by Maria Popova.

Figuring opens with this paragraph:

All of it - the rings of Saturn and my father’s wedding band, the underbelly of the clouds pinked by the rising sun, Einstein’s brain bathing in a jar of formaldehyde, every grain of sand that made the glass that made the jar and each idea Einstein ever had, the shepherdess singing in the Rila mountains of my native Bulgaria and each one of her sheep, every hair on Chance's velveteen dog ears and Marianne Moore’s red braid and the whiskers of Montaigne’s cat, every translucent fingernail on my friend Amanda’s newborn son, every stone with which Virginia Woolf filled her coat pockets before wading into the River Ouse to drown, every copper atom composing the disc that carried arias abroad the first human-made object to enter interstellar space and every oak splinter of the floor boards onto which Beethoven collapsed in the fit of fury that cost him his hearing, the wetness of every tear that has ever been wept over a grave and the sheen on the beak of every raven that has ever watched the weepers, every cell in Galileo’s fleshy finger and every molecule of gas and dust that made the moons of Jupiter to which it pointed, the Dipper of freckles constellating the olive firmament of a certain forearm I love and every axonal flutter of the tenderness with which I love her, all the facts and figments by which we are perpetually figuring and reconfiguring reality - it all banged into being 13.8 billion years ago from a single source, no louder than the opening note of Beethoven’s Firth Symphony, no larger than the dot levitating over the small i, the ‘I’ lowered from the pedestal of ego.

which is indeed a large run-on monologue of things that exist, including "the rocks which sank Virginia Woolf", poetically describing how they all result from the Big Bang. The text goes on to mention something similar to the phrase recalled by the OP - "hanging in a balance like a spider on an invisible thread" -

a miraculous sight: a small shimmering red leaf twirling in midair... But then I step closer and notice a fine spider's web glistening in the air above the leaf, conspiring with gravity in this spinning miracle

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