Jolley Prize 2015 (Shortlist): 'Borges and I' by Michelle Cahill

I trace my encounters with time travel to perdurantism and poetry. In the spring of 1981, I was appointed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Colorado to probe a wormhole, an undertaking of ambitious design which would allow information to travel faster than the speed of light. As the universe was changing, the preparations were endless. Our project was classified as high-level security. I was briefed by officials from the FBI and CIA. My colleagues were the Sino-American physicist Chen Kwong and the Iranian statistician Hamid Husseini, with whom lengthy conferences and memoranda on the prospects for manipulating gravity and electromagnetic fields ensued. At last we dissected down to the bare bones of a strategy, forestalling every theoretical hitch. We would simultaneously send data to two villages in New Mexico separated by sixty-three kilometres. I had furnished myself adequately for the task, exhausting the existing research on nano-technology, loop models, and data algorithms, not to mention the elementary training of my post-doctorate in modal counterparts. I cannot diminish the accretions of pedagogy, but what most mesmerised and inspired me arrived as a package wrapped in crenulated brown paper and tied with twine.

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Michelle Cahill

Michelle Cahill

Michelle Cahill is a Sydney-based poet. Her recent collection, Vishvarūpa (2011),was shortlisted in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. She has received awards and grants in poetry and fiction. This year she will take up the CAL/UOW International Fellowship at Kingston University, London. She is co-editor of Contemporary Asian Australian Poets (Puncher and Wattmann), and she edits Mascara Literary Review.

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