Infinite Density by Joshua Michael Stewart

Paul couldn’t understand what was happening to him. Each day he woke up a little shorter. I must be shrinking, Paul thought. He knew this happened to old people, but he was far too young to be an old person. Then the day came when Paul couldn’t see over the kitchen counter or reach doorknobs, not even on his tippy-toes. He’d have nightmares—running endless fields of shag carpet, chased by a brontosaurus-sized mouse.

As Paul grew smaller, frustration swelled within his body. “The most tedious disappearing act,” he’d say to his pet water bear. He had become a speck of memory to family and friends. Only his mother would visit him, her eyelashes sweeping a microscope lens the closest she came to touching him.

The dwindling increased until Paul reduced to infinite density. Precipitously, he exploded, spreading incalculable atoms throughout the space-time continuum, generating planets, solar systems, galaxies—an entire universe created out of Paul-dust.

Amoebas formed, then fish. Then the fish walked out of oceans, and bumbling two-legged creatures hunted monstrous beasts with spears. All owe their existence to Paul. The more advanced species gather to tell tales of his greatness and sing praise. They raise their eyes and hearts toward the nightly tundra and call to him, their shadows gesticulating wildly in campfire light.

Joshua Michael Stewart is the author of three poetry collections: Break Every String, The Bastard Children of Dharma Bums, and Love Something. His poems have appeared in the Massachusetts Review, Salamander, Plainsongs, Brilliant Corners, South Dakota Review, Permafrost, and many others. He lives in Ware, Massachusetts. Learn more about him at his website:

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